Hand eczema can also develop as a result of an allergic reaction to a product the skin is coming in contact with like soap, shampoo, or moisturizer. When traditional prescriptions and remedies don’t improve hand eczema, Krauss Dermatology offers patch testing to help clarify any possible role skin allergy may be playing in eczema type rashes. Our own Dr. Krauss was interviewed by the Boston Globe about treatment of dry cracked hands, click here to see her recommendations.
We’ve discussed a few of the more common types of eczema, as well as what is understood about the condition, but what can be done to treat it?
Hydration of the skin: this is one of the cornerstones of treatment. When the skin is dry and itchy, steps to add moisture and restore the normal barrier function of the skin are a must. A moisturizer in the form of a cream or ointment must be applied frequently, especially after any washing of the skin.
Reduction of inflammation: important for both allowing the skin to heal and for stopping the itch. Topical medications, such as steroid creams, are invaluable to rapidly relieve itching, calm down inflammation and help the skin return to normal. Used for many years in dermatology, topical steroids are extremely safe (even for infants) when used as recommended and for limited periods of time on the skin. Occasionally oral medications, such as prednisone or antihistamines, are also needed if outbreaks are severe. A new injectable biologic agent, Dupixent, has transformed the lives of teens and adults afflicted with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis.
Prevention: once clear, there are often steps that can be taken to prevent (or at least minimize) a future outbreak. When triggers or culpable allergens are known, avoidance of them is certainly important whenever possible. In children with atopic dermatitis, routine moisturizing, especially after bathing, is recommended. In the case of hand dermatitis, limiting hand washing or at least using gentler cleansers followed by application of moisturizers helps prevent flares. When immersing the hands in water (such as washing dishes), wearing gloves is also helpful. Since the skin tends to be dryer in winter, many of us will need to start applying moisturizers in late fall to prevent that dry winter itch from developing.
Eczema is a common condition, one we at Krauss Dermatology see in our patients regularly. While there is no known cure for it, with diligent skin care and effective treatment tailored to each individual’s needs it can at least be tamed so that patients can live as freely as possible from the dreaded itch.