Hand dermatitis, or hand eczema is a common and debilitating condition. It is commonly seen in people who work in the ‘services’ industry where hands are continually exposed to water, detergents or other irritants. The condition may be diagnosed as severe, persistent, mild or intermittent.
The most commonly accepted causes of hand dermatitis are:
- Contact with irritants
Hand Dermatitis may present with:
- Skin that is red and scaling
- Vesicles or fluid-filled blisters
- Fissures or deep cracks
- ‘Weeping’ from blisters and cracks
- Signs of bacterial infection
- Pain and itching
Treatment for Hand Dermatitis
The condition can be properly treated only after the causes have been identified. This usually involves a detailed history. Important questions include the type of work a patient does, if they expose their hands repeatedly to things such as solvents, water or other chemicals. A family or personal history of atopic dermatitis, hayfever and asthma may be more common.
Investigations may be recommended. These may include blood tests, skin prick testing and/or patch testing. Blood tests are often performed to determine if someone has an atopic tendency. Skin prick testing and patch testing are more specialised investigations. These are often only recommended if simple treatment measures fail, or if there is a high level of suspicion that a contact-allergen is involved.
Once the causes and contributing factors are known, the patient is then going to be instructed in a plan for skin care management. This tends to include:
- The avoidance of wet hands or wet work for long periods of time
- The avoidance of irritants
- The use of non-reactive gloves when contact with risky substances is required
- The use of emollients on the hands and forearms that will enhance the protective oils on the skin
- Topical steroids and antibiotics if necessary
If you have any questions or concerns about hand dermatitis contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a dermatologist. Contact us today.