Eczema of the hands can be particularly painful and difficult to manage. Also, sufferers may feel self-conscious or have to refrain from everyday activities during flares. Hand eczema is frequently posted about on Facebook eczema support groups, and is a common source of questions we receive at CLn Skin Care. So, we compiled a list of frequently asked questions about eczema of the hands, and Dr. Mark Jackson provided expert answers:
QUESTION: What causes eczema on the hands?
Eczema simply means dermatitis or dry, red, itchy, irritated skin. It can be caused by things that irritate the skin or by things that cause allergy or contact dermatitis. It is also seen in people with a history of atopic dermatitis, which is a condition where patients don’t have a normal skin barrier and they are not able to use products that people with normal skin can use.
QUESTION: Who suffers from hand eczema more commonly?
Patients with atopic dermatitis or people who are washing their hands constantly or working with harsh, irritating chemicals experience more hand eczema.
QUESTION: What makes hand eczema worse? What ingredients or activities should be avoided by sufferers?
Constant washing/drying without following by moisturizers, exposure to irritating chemicals, winter weather or anything people might be allergic to can cause or worsen an eczema flare.
QUESTION: What ingredients or activities should be avoided by sufferers?
Avoid fragrance-containing cleansers and lotions. Lotions have a higher alcohol content than creams or ointments so they are best avoided for general moisturizing in patients with severe hand eczema. Also, irritating chemicals like bleach and other caustic agents should be strictly avoided.
QUESTION: What can help manage hand eczema?
Good moisturizing techniques with high quality emollient creams and ointments that are fragrance-free can really help. As can avoiding harsh washes and antibiotic cleansers such as the leave-on hand sanitizers. Soapless liquid cleansers tend to be gentle and get the best result.
QUESTION: What role does cleansing play in managing the condition?
Good cleansing protects from bacterial overgrowth, which is common in the damaged skin of eczema patients.
We hope these answers help you to better manage your hand eczema. We encourage you to use gentle, effective cleansers on your hands whenever and wherever possible, and to seek the care of a dermatologist if your hand eczema worsens.
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