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Caring for Hand Eczema (Eczema)
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Caring for Hand Eczema

Ronald Vender, MD, FRCPC

What is hand eczema?

Hand eczema is a relatively broad term that describes symptoms of dermatitis or the inflammation of the epidermis layer of the skin. Symptoms include drying, and itchy skin, redness and swelling. The skin may develop cracks and bleed if it becomes serious. Hand eczema affects approximately 4% of men and 10% of women, and is more common and pronounced in people who, due to their occupation, are exposed to a continued wetting and drying of the hands.

Eczema is closely related to hay fever and asthma. Having a history of these conditions increase your chances of developing eczema later. If you had atopic dermatitis as a child, there is a close to 50% chance that you will later develop hand eczema. Psoriasis patients also commonly develop hand eczema. Visit for more information.

Contact Dermatitis: What is it?

About three quarters of people with eczema have contact dermatitis. This simply refers to a skin reaction, usually in the form of rashes, redness, and swelling, which can be the result of physical or chemical irritation, or the result of coming into contact with an allergen (allergic contact dermatitis). Patch testing can determine if it is the latter, and in this case, ceasing contact with the allergen is a must for recovery.

How do I treat hand eczema?

It can sometimes be difficult to treat hand eczema as it is a recurring condition. However, there are many well known tips to control the condition, and prevent aggravation. Repetitive washing and drying, as well as exposure to cold air are common features which aggravate this condition. Visit your dermatologist for a treatment that suits your current condition, skin type, and medical needs.

What can I do to control hand eczema?

Minimize contact with potential irritants. Shampoos and cleansers can become irritants as well as harsh soaps. Wearing a vinyl glove can protect your hands when showering. Hand washing of dishes can also be a common aggravating factor. Fruits, vegetables, and raw meat can all be irritants. Rubbing can be a physical irritant; it is advised that you pat your hands dry after washing. The use of a moisturizer after washing is recommended to prevent drying.


contact dermatitis,   eczema,   hand eczema,