Hand dermatitis (also known as hand eczema) often results from a combination of causes, including genetic makeup (constitutional factors), injury (contact with irritants) and allergy. This condition is usually multi-factorial. The skin can react to the inflammation by forming scales. Fissures can then develop and these can be quite painful. The majority of individuals who have irritant dermatitis (75% of all cases of hand dermatitis) will produce this through contact with detergents, cleansers, water, metals, food or rubber. Hand dermatitis is particularly common in industries involving cleaning, catering, metalwork, hairdressing, healthcare and mechanical work. Hand dermatitis varies in severity. It may affect the backs of the hands, the palms or both sites.
Often it starts as a mild intermittent complaint, but it can become increasingly severe and persistent. The affected skin initially becomes red and dry, then progresses to itchy papules (bumps) and fluid-filled blisters (vesicles), scaling, cracking (fissures), weeping (exudation) and swelling (oedema). Hand dermatitis can spread to affect other sites, particularly the forearms and feet. Emotional stresses make hand dermatitis worse, especially the type known as pompholyx in which crops of very itchy vesicles erupt on the palms. Some people are more prone to hand dermatitis than others. They often have a personal or family history of atopic dermatitis, asthma or hay fever. Friction and repetitive injury also damage the skin. Irritants result in much more damage once dermatitis has become established
To treat hand dermatitis, you must avoid contact with the substance that irritates your skin. Protect your hands from direct contact with soaps, detergents, scouring powders, and similar irritating chemicals by wearing waterproof, cotton lined, gloves. Topical steroids to reduce inflammation. These come in various strengths and should only be applied to areas of active dermatitis once or twice daily. Avoid the temptation of using very hot water even if wearing gloves. Wear cotton gloves to do general house work as they can be washed instead of washing your hands too often. Cortisone ointments are used treat severe cases of hand dermatitis.
Mud Gloves are good for working outside if you have hand dermatitis. Use a mild soap (Dove, Basis, Olay, Cetaphil) or a soap substitute.
Hand Dermatitis Treatment and Prevention Tips
1. Use a long handled brush for washing the dishes
2. Avoid direct contact with turpentine, paint thinner and paints.
3. Avoid the temptation of using very hot water even if wearing gloves.
4. Keep hand washing to a minimum, keep water temperature luke warm
5. Avoid harsh or scented soaps, soapless cleansers may be the best to use.
6. Apply moisturizers after washing, ointments that are clear and sticky seem to work the best.
7. Avoid heating or cooling the skin, sweating within rubber gloves alone can worsen the dermatitis.
8. Wear cotton gloves to do general house work as they can be washed instead of washing your hands too often.