What is Hand Eczema?
Let's face it: Human hands take a beating.
In the course of a lifetime hands get scrubbed with detergent soaps and soaked and splashed with countless chemicals and cleaning agents.
Those who work with their hands in the trades, like construction workers, often live with the pain of eczema. Those who work outdoors see a lot of eczema on top of hands.
It most often affects people who work in cleaning, catering, hairdressing, healthcare and mechanical jobs where they may come into contact with chemicals and other irritants.
This is what is known is commonly known as dishpan hands. But its real name is simply hand eczema, which is a form of dermatitis.
According to the National Eczema Association genetics and contact allergens play a small role in triggering this extreme dry skin condition
How do I know if I have hand eczema?
All forms of eczema cause itching and redness of the skin.
Symptoms of hand eczema:
- Dryness, to the point of peeling and flaking
There is another type of hand eczema referred to as pompholyx eczema, dyshidrotic eczema or dyshidrotic hand dermatitis which causes small, itchy blisters to appear on the palms of the hands.
The appearance of blisters makes this different then the more common hand eczema described here.
Dyshidrotic eczema needs to be treated by a doctor.
Hand eczema treatment
One thing to remember when treating hand eczema: Don't use moisturizer!
The water in lotions and moisturizers is likely to worsen your hand eczema.
Common moisturizers contain more water than oil, and when the water evaporates it can dry out the skin again.
The best moisturizer for hand eczema is an oily body butter or cream with no water added.
An ointment like petroleum jelly can be effective, but repeatedly absorbing a petroleum based product through your skin is not considered safe.
I recommend Naturally Mignon Winter Itch Eczema Butter. It can be used on dry spots all over the body (except face) including dry hands. It is all natural and contains no artificial colors, scent or parabens.
The butter is made from pure safflower oil and palm oil with no water added. Yes, it's a bit greasier than an off-the-shelf mositurizing lotion, but over time it is very effective in restoring your hand's moisture barrier.
It's best to apply to your hands immediately after you shower or bathe and every time you wash your hands.
Those who see eczema on top of hands because of sun exposure can benefit from wearing light protective gloves to block the sun's rays.
It can take a few months for a hand eczema flare-up to clear up. While treating your condition, it's best to keep your hands away from strong detergents and chemicals.