Hand Eczema (Hand Dermatitis)

Chances are good you’re washing or sanitizing your hands more now than you ever have in your life.  With the current state of things relating to COVID 19, we have all become more cautious with our hand hygiene.  Our hands ordinarily take a lot of abuse.  Repetitive wet-dry cycles from hand washing and/or irritating chemicals in hand sanitizer can compound these abuses.  This is especially the case in individuals with sensitive skin.  Considering this, at Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands we expect that more and more of us will start to suffer from hand eczema (hand dermatitis).

Hand Eczema (Hand Dermatitis) Development

Hand Eczema (Hand Dermatitis) develops when the hands break out in a rash, consisting of red, itchy spots. The best dermatologists know that the most common cause for this rash is irritation.  Numerous factors may irritate the skin of the hands, leading up to eczema.  Friction, dryness, and various chemicals are some of the most common irritants.  Hand sanitizers are generally formulated to minimize irritation.  However, the primary active ingredient in most sanitizers (ethyl alcohol) still has irritating properties.

Initially we see dry red patches with fine cracks or blisters.  As hand eczema becomes more persistent, the skin can take on a thickened, leathery quality with continued redness, scaling, and itching.  This may also cause splitting (fissuring), which can be especially problematic and painful on the fingertips.  For more information specifically on fingertip splitting, check out this link https://www.midlandsderm.com/?s=splitting.

Eczema Moisturizer Treatment

Most cases of hand eczema can be treated with some simple measures.  When possible, minimizing irritation can lessen the rash and symptoms.   If doing activities around the house that normally require washing the hands afterwards, consider wearing disposable gloves such as nitrile gloves.  Certainly, due to Coronavirus most of us need to be washing or sanitizing our hands more frequently.  So, what else can be done?

Moisturizer is the key to maintain healthy hands and prevent hand eczema.  A myriad of different products are out there for you to choose from for your go-to product.  We advocate experimenting to find which moisturizer you like best.  The top-tier products that we recommend for the hands are:

  • CeraVe Cream
  • Vanicream
  • Eucerin
  • Aquaphor

Apply your moisturizer regularly, especially after washing your hands.  Even if you are too busy during the daytime or cannot apply your moisturizer for other reasons, try keeping it at your bedside and applying it to your hands just as you are getting into bed at night.

Hand Eczema (Hand Dermatitis) Medical Treatment

For those of us who are still struggling, medicated products can help turn the tide and settle down inflamed hands.  Hydrocortisone 1% is an over-the-counter applied steroid that may help in some mild cases.  Try using the ointment version instead of the cream because it is more potent.  We also prescribe many stronger applied steroids for more stubborn cases of hand eczema.  Keep in mind that any steroid can thin the skin, so we generally advise patients to avoid using these medicines more than 10 days a month.

Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands | Best Dermatologist Omaha & Council Bluffs, IA | Board Certified Dermatologists

With the aggressive precautions we are all taking to reduce the spread of COVID 19 and flatten the curve, taking added steps to maintain healthy hands is more important than ever.  If your hand eczema does not improve with these tips, call us for an appointment.  All our dermatology providers have extensive experience treating hand eczema, even some of the worst cases which require even more in-depth management.  At Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands, we have telemedicine/teledermatology visits available for those who want to be seen remotely for their skin condition via video conferencing.  Check out this page on our website for more information https://www.midlandsderm.com/teledermatology/.

If we may be of any further assistance, please contact us to schedule a consultation. in any of our clinics in Omaha, Council Bluffs or the surrounding communities.

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