Dry, scaly, and painful hands could be hand eczema

Is the skin on your hands dry, thick, and scaly? Do you have deep, painful cracks on your hands that bleed? You may have more than dry skin. Hand eczema could be the culprit.

Hand eczema can cause the following:

  • Dry, chapped skin (often the first sign)
  • Patches of red (or dark brown) irritated skin
  • Scaly and inflamed skin that may itch
  • Burning sensation
  • Itchy blisters
  • Deep, painful cracks
  • Bleeding or weeping skin
  • Crusts, pus, and pain

 

Because it often looks like dry skin, hand eczema can easily be mistaken for dry skin. Unlike dry skin, you need more than a good moisturizer to get rid of hand eczema.

Relief requires finding the cause

Effective treatment begins with finding the cause. Anything that irritates your skin can cause hand eczema. Even something as harmless as water can irritate your skin if your often have wet hands. Many people who frequently have wet hands throughout the day, such as nurses, hair stylists, and plumbers get hand eczema.

Working with chemicals like solvents, detergents, or cement also increases the risk. Hand eczema is common among construction workers and machinists.

Hand eczema can also be caused by an allergic reaction. Some health care workers get hand eczema from wearing latex gloves.

You also have a higher risk of developing hand eczema if you had atopic dermatitis (often called eczema) as a child.

Because so many things can cause hand eczema, finding the cause can be tricky. Until you find the cause and avoid it, hand eczema can worsen.

Treatment includes avoiding the cause

When to see a dermatologist

If you have extremely dry, painful hands and using moisturizer throughout the day fails to bring relief, you may have hand eczema. Without treatment and preventive measures, hand eczema tends to worsen.