What is Dyshidrotic Eczema (Hands and Feet)?
These lectures are not meant to replace your physician and are simply provided as a free educational service to all our visitors. If you feel that you have a skin problem, please see your doctor.
Dyshidrotic eczema is a common skin problem, which is neither infectious nor contagious in nature. It affects the hands or the feet - and sometimes both. It is often found in people who have a considerable amount of sweating from these areas.
Dyshidrotic eczema consists in its mildest form of sweating, and slight scaling and cracking of the affected skin. In more severe cases, tiny water blisters form on the fingers, toes, palms and soles which come and go. There may be pain, itching and frequent secondary infections. If there is any involvement of the area around the nails, there is often disfiguring of the nails. When dyshidrotic eczema involves the feet, it is a frequent occurrence that the patient will have mistakenly felt or have been told is due to a fungal infection. Treating it as a fungus usually just makes it worse!
Although the cause of the condition is still controversial, many dermatologists explain the process on the basis of an inherited abnormality in the ability of the skin to deliver sweat from the sweat gland, through the sweat duct and out the opening of that duct to the surface of the skin. When these sweat droplets are trapped within the skin, the "waste products", which are in the retained sweat, act as an itch producing and irritating material that causes inflammation and a kind of a skin reaction that we call ECZEMA.
Any outside irritation of the surface of the skin in these susceptible areas can further interfere with the ability of the skin to get sweat delivered properly through the opening of the sweat duct at the skin surface. The exposure of the skin of the hands and feet to certain soaps, chemicals, greases or irritations is often associated with triggering an attack of dyshidrotic eczema.
While exposure of the palms and soles to warm temperatures does produce sweating, a significant amount of the sweating done by the palms and soles is related to emotional stress. For this reason, in some individuals, tension may trigger or increase flares of dyshidrotic eczema.
Anytime severe itching persists, use a product that is formulated in a soothing, emollient base. Sarna Lotion, for example, is an excellent anti-itch lotion that will provide immediate relief of itchy skin. Sarna contains 0.5% each of camphor and menthol to provide the immediate sensation of a cool anti-itch lotion. In those conditions that are characterized by chronic and recurrent itchy skin, Sarna Lotion provides the relief to calm the irritating and antagonizing symptom of itch.
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