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    Dyshidrotic eczema

    Dyshidrosis; Pompholyx

    Dyshidrotic eczema is a condition in which small blisters develop on the hands and feet. Blisters are often itchy.


    This blistering type of eczema is twice as common in women than men.

    People are more likely to develop dyshidrotic eczema when:

    • They are under stress
    • They have allergies, such as hayfever
    • Their hands are often in water or moist
    • They do cement work or other work that exposes their hands to chromium, cobalt, nickel

    The cause is unknown. The condition seems to appear during certain times of the year.


    Small fluid-filled blisters called vesicles appear on the fingers, hands, and feet. They are most common along the edges of the fingers, toes, palms, and soles. These blisters can be very itchy. They also causescaly patches of skin that flake orget red, cracked, and painful.

    Scratching leads to skin changes and skin thickening. Large blisters may cause pain.

    Exams and Tests

    Your health care providermay be able to diagnose this condition by looking at your skin.

    Askin biopsymay be needed to rule out other causes, such as a fungal infection.

    If your doctor thinks the condition may be due to an allergic reaction, allergy testing (patch testing) may be done.


    Scratching only the condition worse.

    • Anti-itch medicines taken by mouth, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and loratiadine (such as Claritin), may helpyou stopscratching.
    • Take an anti-itch medicine before bed if you scratch in your sleep.

    Apply an ointments or creamsto yourhands at least two times per day, and after every hand washing.

    • Heavy ointments are best. Petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline), mineral oil or vegetable shortening may be best but can be messy.
    • Creams are thicker than lotions. Creams such as Eucerin and Lubriderm may be helpful.

    Your doctor may prescribe steroid (or corticosteroid) ointments or creams.Other creams or ointments such as tacrolimus or pimecrolimus may also be used.

    Your doctor may recommend the following if your symptoms are very bad:

    • Steroid pills
    • Coal tar preparations
    • Phototherapy (ultraviolet light therapy)

    Avoid frequent bathing, hand washing, and irritating substances, which can make itching worse.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    There is no cure. Dyshidrotic eczema normally goes away without problems, but symptoms may come back. Excess scratching may lead to thick, irritated skin. This makes the problem harder to treat.

    Possible Complications

    • Pain and itching that limits the use of the hands
    • Bacterial infection from scratching

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you have:

    • Signs of infection such as tenderness, redness, warmth, or fever
    • A rash that does not go away with simple home treatments


    Veien NK. Acute and recurrent vesicular hand dermatitis. Dermatol Clin. 2009 Jul;27(3):337-53.

    Reider N, Fritsch PO. Other Eczematous Eruptions. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, et al, eds.Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 13.


    • Skin layers


      • Skin layers


      Self Care

        Tests for Dyshidrotic eczema

          Review Date: 11/20/2012

          Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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