What is wrong with my hands? Hand Dermatitis explained….

With colder weather we commonly see patients complain of a rash affecting their hands. This group of conditions is commonly referred to as hand dermatitis or hand eczema. This rash can affect any part of the hands – palms, fingers, or tops/backs of the hands.  Anyone can be affected by this condition including children, but it is most commonly found in young adult females. Hand dermatitis is seen more often in patients who work in industries involved in cleaning, catering, healthcare, mechanical work, and hairdressing to name a few. In those industries there is the higher likelihood of coming into contact with irritants or developing actual allergies to chemicals commonly in contact with the hands. 

Hand dermatitis usually presents as red patches or bumps or blisters and sometimes even fissures (cuts) on the skin.  The skin tends to be dry and scaly and can itch, burn, or can even be painful.

There can be a number of reasons for a rash affecting the hands including eczema, psoriasis, a fungal infection, or irritant or allergy exposure.  Tests can be done to assist in making the correct diagnosis and aid in guiding the practitioner with treatment.

In general there are some basics that are used to minimize and treat hand dermatitis.  We recommend that the skin be protected from exposure from irritants – including water and weather. Cleaning of the skin should be done with very mild/bland soap with emollients and thoroughly dried after being in contact with water. Its a good habit to moisturize your hands with a hypoallergenic lotion after drying them.  Wearing protective gloves when doing “wet work” or when using any chemicals is very helpful as well.  Wearing gloves when out in colder weather is also highly recommended.  Use of moisturizing emollients is a MUST and must be done frequently for greatest relief and best results.  Topical steroids are the primary treatment to calm the inflammation and relieve the discomfort if moisturizers are not sufficient.  There are also other topical medications that can be used and in some cases oral medication may be given as well.  We will assist you with your treatment and help you prevent the possible return of your hand dermatitis.

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