Rashes on the hands may be due to eczema or contact dermatitis.
Itching, redness, dryness/scaling, and sometimes cracking/fissuring of the skin of the hands. Small, deep-seated blisters may sometimes be seen on the edges of fingers and palms in the case of dyshidrotic eczema.
Individuals with underlying eczema and/or seasonal allergies, or with a family history of eczema, are at increased risk of developing hand dermatitis. While it is most common in young adult females, hand dermatitis can be seen at all ages, including childhood. Everyone has different triggers, and it is important to try to track your own symptoms and patterns to see if you can identify and avoid your own personal triggers. Common triggers include, but are not limited to: pollen, excessive sweating, prolonged contact with water, cold/dry weather, and stress.
In some cases, hand dermatitis can be associated with something that your hands are coming into contact with (irritant or allergic contact dermatitis). Some of the most common causes of hand contact dermatitis include hand soaps and moisturizers (especially those containing fragrance), dishwashing soap, hand sanitizer, perfumes/fragrances, essential oils, nail polish or false nails, hair dye, jewelry containing nickel and gloves. Hand dermatitis aggravated by work is sometimes known as occupational dermatitis. This is especially common in the following industries: healthcare, hairdressing, metal working, cleaning, restaurant/catering, mechanical work, and painting.
It is often difficult to identify the exact cause of your hand contact dermatitis. Your dermatologist may consider a special test called patch testing to help identify the underlying cause.
Regular use of thick hand moisturizers after every hand wash and shower is the best at- home treatment for prevention of hand eczema. Recommended hand moisturizers include CeraVe® Therapeutic Hand Cream, Neutrogena® Norwegian Formula Hand Cream, and Eucerin® Advanced Repair Hand Cream.
Your dermatologist may recommend and prescribe topical steroid creams or other non-steroid
prescription creams/ointments. In some patients, phototherapy (light therapy) can be helpful for
controlling symptoms. Wearing white cotton gloves, especially at bedtime after applying medications, is sometimes recommended. 100% white cotton gloves made specifically for patients with eczema can be purchased on Amazon. When washing dishes or doing house cleaning, we sometimes recommend the “two glove technique,” which is a pair of white cotton gloves under a pair of vinyl gloves for extra hand protection.
If your rash is consistent with contact dermatitis, completely avoiding the known or potential irritants or allergens is the most important part of treatment.
There is no cure for hand dermatitis, but avoidance of triggers (including potential irritants and allergens), regular use of moisturizers, and use of prescription medications as recommended by your dermatologist can help to control hand dermatitis.