Dyshidrotic eczema is a common form of eczema that is localised on the palm of the hands, the soles of the feet, the edges of the fingers and the toes. It is an inflammatory skin condition. Here is everything you need to know about dyshidrotic eczema.
Dyshidrotic eczema, a dermatitis of the hands and feet.
What is Dyshidrotic Eczema?
Also known as dyshidrosis or vesicular eczema, dyshidrotic eczema is a skin condition that affects the hands and feet. It is a form of eczema that causes small blisters located on the edges of the fingers or toes, on the palm of the hand or the sole of the foot.
Dyshidrotic eczema is often associated with seasonal allergies and is known to be more virulent in the spring. Adults between the ages of 20 and 40 are generally the most affected. Unlike more traditional forms of eczema, children are usually spared. Finally, it should be noted that dyshidrosis is a benign and non-contagious condition that evolves in flare-ups.
How to recognise dyshidrotic eczema?
Like other forms of eczema, dyshidrosis causes redness of the skin and intense itching. In addition to this, blisters that resemble bubbles appear, giving the name to vesicular eczema. The skin also tends to flake and thicken significantly (lichenification). Dyshidrotic eczema also causes the appearance of vesicles filled with a clear fluid. When these burst, they are replaced by weeping sores and then thick crusts.
Even though dyshidrotic eczema exclusively affects the hands and feet, it is not always easy to identify. Indeed, the blisters are sometimes hard to detect, due to their small size or when the skin thickens. Furthermore, dyshidrotic eczema can be accompanied by another form of eczema, such as contact eczema.
What are the causes of dyshidrotic eczema?
The exact cause of dyshidrotic eczema is still unknown to this day. However, it appears that individuals prone to other forms of eczema such as atopic eczema or contact eczema are more affected. Additionally, genetics are suspected to play a role in dyshidrosis as it is observed that individuals prone to this condition often have a close relative affected by a form of eczema. Finally, several trigger factors for dyshidrotic eczema flare-ups have been identified:
Allergenic substances: pollen, dust, animal hair...
Specific metals: nickel found in jewellery, zippers, metal buttons, cobalt discovered in dishware, jewellery, snap buttons...
Humidity: a humid climate, or significant perspiration of the hands and feet.
A microbial infection.
Dyshidrotic Eczema: What are the Solutions?
In instances where dyshidrotic eczema is pronounced, it is advised to consult a dermatologist. They will prescribe a local treatment based on corticosteroids and sometimes antibiotics, if it's a bacterial infection. Phototherapy sessions can also be carried out. Indeed, UV rays act on dyshidrotic eczema by reducing the number of flare-ups.
To alleviate the symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema, you can supplement your treatment with cold water baths. It is indeed recommended to soak your feet and hands in cold water, or opt for damp compresses for a quarter of an hour. The cold can significantly soothe itching. Ensure to repeat this process three to four times a day. This should be followed by the application of a moisturising and nourishing care product as water can have a drying effect.
GOLDENBERG G. & al. Eczema. The Mount Sinai journal of medicine (2011).
AZANZA J. & al. Dyshidrotic Eczema: A Common Cause of Palmar Dermatitis. Cureus (2020).