What is dyshidrosis?
Dyshidrosis, a type of dermatitis, is characterized by itchy blisters on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet. These blisters are generally one to two millimeters in size and heal in three weeks. Redness is not usually present. They often recur. Repeated episodes of flare up may result in fissures and skin thickening.
How common is dyshidrosis?
Dyshidrosis is the third most common dermatitis, or inflammation, of the hands. It’s twice as common in women as men. About half of those who suffer from dyshidrosis also have atopic dermatitis, a common form of eczema.
However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of dyshidrosis?
Small blisters with the following characteristics:
- Blisters are very small (3 mm or less in diameter). They appear on the tips and sides of the fingers, toes, palms, and soles.
- Blisters are opaque and deep-seated; they are either flush with the skin or slightly elevated and do not break easily. Eventually, small blisters come together and form large blisters.
- Blisters may itch, cause pain, or produce no symptoms at all. They worsen after contact with soap, water, or irritating substances.
- Scratching blisters break them, releasing the fluid inside, causing the skin to crust and eventually crack. This cracking is painful as well as unsightly and often takes weeks or even months to heal. The skin is dry and scaly during this period.
- Fluid from the blisters is a serum that accumulates between the irritated skin cells. It is not sweat as was previously thought.
- In some cases, as the blistering takes place in the palms or finger, lymph node swelling may accompany the outbreak. This is characterized by a tingling feeling in the forearm and bumps present in the armpits.
- Nails on affected fingers, or toes, may take on a pitted appearance.
When should I see my doctor?
Early diagnosis and treatment can stop dyshidrosis from worsening, so talk to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent this serious condition.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes dyshidrosis?
The cause of dyshidrosis is unknown. It can be associated with a similar skin disorder called atopic dermatitis, as well as with allergic conditions, such as hay fever. Eruptions may be seasonal in people with nasal allergies.
What increases my risk for dyshidrosis?
Risk factors for dyshidrosis include:
- Stress: Dyshidrosis appears to be more common during times of emotional or physical stress.
- Exposure to certain metals: These include cobalt and nickel — usually in an industrial setting.
- Sensitive skin: People who develop a rash after contact with certain irritants are more likely to experience dyshidrosis.
- Atopic eczema: Some people with atopic eczema may develop dyshidrosis.
Diagnosis & Treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is dyshidrosis diagnosed?
In most cases, your doctor can diagnose dyshidrosis based on a physical exam. No lab test can specifically confirm a diagnosis of dyshidrosis, but your doctor may suggest tests to rule out other skin problems that have similar symptoms.
For example, a scraping of your skin can be tested for the type of fungus that causes problems such as athlete’s foot. Skin allergies and sensitivities can be revealed by exposing patches of your skin to various substances.
How is dyshidrosis treated?
Depending on the severity of your signs and symptoms, treatment options may include:
- Corticosteroids: High-potency corticosteroid creams and ointments may help speed the disappearance of the blisters. Wrapping the treated area in plastic wrap can improve absorption. Moist compresses also may be applied after the application of a corticosteroid to enhance the absorption of the medication. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroid pills, such as prednisone. Long-term use of steroids can cause serious side effects.
- Phototherapy: If other treatments aren’t effective, your doctor may recommend a special kind of light therapy that combines exposure to ultraviolet light with drugs that help make your skin more receptive to the effects of this type of light.
- Immune-suppressing ointments: Medications such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel) may be helpful for people who want to limit their exposure to steroids. A side effect of these drugs is an increased risk of skin infections.
- Botulinum toxin injections: Some doctors may consider recommending botulinum toxin injections to treat severe cases of dyshidrosis.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage dyshidrosis?
Wet, cold compresses can help reduce the discomfort associated with itchy skin. Your doctor may recommend that you apply an ointment after you use compresses. A moisturizer may also help with the dryness and therefore reduce some itching as well.
These moisturizers may include:
- Petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline
- Heavy creams, such as Lubriderm or Eucerin
- Mineral oil
- Soaking with witch hazel
Changing your diet may help if medications don’t seem to be keeping up with flare-ups. Since it is believed that a nickel or cobalt allergy can cause eczema, removing foods that contain these may help. Some have said that adding vitamin A to your diet will help, but be sure to ask your doctor before doing so.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Dyshidrosis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dyshidrosis/diagnosis-treatment/clinical-trials/rsc-20202321. Accessed 19 Feb, 2017.
Dyshidrosis. http://www.healthline.com/health/dyshidrotic-eczema#Overview1. Accessed 19 Feb, 2017.
Dyshidrosis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17150166. Accessed 19 Feb, 2017.
Review Date: March 8, 2017 | Last Modified: March 8, 2017