What is dyshidrosis?
Dyshidrosis, also known as dyshidrotic eczema or pompholyx, is a skin condition in which very small, fluid-filled blisters appear on the palms of your hands and the sides of your fingers. The soles of your feet also can be affected.
The blisters that occur in dyshidrosis generally last around three weeks and cause intense itching. Once the blisters of dyshidrosis dry, your skin may appear scaly. The blisters typically recur, sometimes before your skin heals completely from the previous blisters.
How common is dyshidrosis?
Dyshidrosis is a common skin condition. Dyshidrotic eczema is the third most common dermatitis, or inflammation, of the hands. It’s twice as common in women as men. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of dyshidrosis?
The blisters associated with dyshidrosis 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 dyshidrosis 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.
Dyshidrosis 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?
Call your doctor if you have a rash on your hands or feet that doesn’t go away on its own.
What causes dyshidrosis?
The exact cause of dyshidrosis 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.
What increases my risk for dyshidrosis?
There are many risk factors for dyshidrosis, such as:
- 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 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 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:
- 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.
- 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?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with dyshidrosis:
- Applying compresses. Wet, cool compresses may help reduce itching.
- Taking anti-itch drugs. Over-the-counter antihistamine medications such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratadine (Claritin, Alavert, others) can help relieve itching.
- Applying witch hazel. Soaking the affected areas in witch hazel may speed healing.
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.