Dyshidrotic eczema


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What is dyshidrotic eczema?

Dyshidrotic eczema, or dyshidrotic, is a skin condition in which blisters develop on the soles of your feet and/or the palms of your hands. The blisters are usually itchy and may be filled with fluid. Blisters normally last for about two to four weeks and may be related to seasonal allergies or stress.

How common is dyshidrotic eczema?

Dyshidrotic eczema is common. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema?

The blisters associated with dyshidrotic occur most commonly on the sides of the fingers and the palms. Sometimes the soles of the feet also can be affected. The blisters are usually small — about the width of a standard pencil lead — and grouped in clusters, with an appearance similar to tapioca.

In more-severe cases, the small blisters may merge to form larger blisters. Skin affected by dyshidrotic can be painful and very itchy. Once the blisters dry and flake off, which occurs in about three weeks, the underlying skin may be red and tender.

Dyshidrotic tends to recur fairly regularly for months or years.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult 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 dyshidrotic eczema?

The exact cause of dyshidrotic eczema is unknown. Experts believe that the condition may be related to seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, so blisters may erupt more frequently during the spring allergy season.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for dyshidrotic eczema?

There are many risk factors for dyshidrotic eczema, such as:

  • Dyshidrotic 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 dyshidrotic.
  • Atopic eczema. Some people with atopic eczema may develop dyshidrotic eczema.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is dyshidrotic eczema diagnosed?

In many cases, your doctor will be able to diagnose dyshidrotic eczema by examining your skin carefully. Because the symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema can be similar to those of other skin conditions, your doctor may choose to run certain tests. The tests may include a skin biopsy, which involves removing a small patch of skin for lab testing. The biopsy can rule out other possible causes of your blisters, such as a fungal infection.

If your doctor believes that your outbreak of dyshidrotic eczema is directly related to allergies, they may also order allergy skin testing.

How is dyshidrotic eczema treated?

There are a number of ways that a dermatologist can treat dyshidrotic eczema. The severity of your outbreak and other factors determine which treatments they will suggest. It also may be necessary to try more than one treatment before finding the right one for you.

Medications or medical treatments

Corticosteroid cream or ointment that you apply directly to your skin for mild outbreaks or, for more severe outbreaks, you may be prescribed a corticosteroid injection or pill.

Other medical treatments used are:

  • UV light treatments
  • Draining large blisters
  • Antihistamines
  • Various anti-itch creams
  • Immune-suppressing ointments, such as Protopic and Elidel (this is a rare treatment option)

If your skin becomes infected, then you will also be prescribed antibiotics or other medications to treat the infection.

Over the counter

If you’re having a mild outbreak of dyshidrotic eczema, your doctor may prescribe antihistamines such as Claritin or Benadryl to help decrease your symptoms.

Home treatments

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.

Treatment for feet

Dyshidrotic can also occur on the soles of your feet, although it is not as common as your fingers or the palms of your hands. The treatment for your feet is similar to the treatment for other areas.

To avoid making your pain and itching worse, try not to scratch or break your blisters. Although it’s important to wash your hands regularly, you may want to avoid extensive contact with water, such as frequent hand-washing. You should also avoid using products that can irritate your skin, such as perfumed lotions and dishwashing soap.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage dyshidrotic eczema?

Because the cause of dyshidrotic is generally unknown, there’s no proven way to prevent this condition. You may help prevent the condition by managing stress and avoiding exposure to metal salts, such as cobalt and nickel.

Good skin care practices may help protect the skin as well. These include:

  • Using mild cleansers and lukewarm water to wash your hands and drying your hands well
  • Moisturizing regularly
  • Wearing gloves

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.

Review Date: October 27, 2017 | Last Modified: October 30, 2017

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