A Dermatologist Looks at Hand Eczema

One of the more common problems faced by Dermatologists like me is what is called “hand eczema,” which is a global term for dry, rough, and often itchy conditions of the hands. Some cases also involve the feet. And you never appreciate how much your hands do for you, until you develop cracking, dryness, peeling, and rashes on your hands!

The above photo is from one of my Dermatology patients today - who had severe itching and pain - which required oral steroids.

This condition of hand eczema can be genetic – in which case we sometimes call it “atopic dermatitis,” meaning that it runs in certain families, along with asthma, hay fever of food allergies. It can also be triggered by low oil level in the skin – or even by a true allergy.

Up to 40% of people with hand eczema are allergic to a preservative, fragrance, dye, or component of latex – and sometimes a type of allergy testing offered by Dermatologists like me – called allergy patch testing – can help to uncover the culprit chemical. I am a member of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, an 1100-member organization of Dermatologists who offer this type of skin allergy testing.

Most Dermatologists treat this painful, dry, or itchy condition either with a prescription steroid cream or ointment – such as Clobetasol, Halobetasol, Betamethasone dipropionate, or Dilforasone diacetate – or else with steroid-free ointments, like Eucrisa Ointment (crisaborole).

Sometimes Dermatologists like me start patients on oral steroids, or use a steroid shot, or even start a series of injections called Dupixent® injections, to help with the rash and itching of hand eczema. We also consider one of several systemic medications such as cyclosporine, for really severe cases.

in 2016, I became the President of a company called Big River Silk Skincare Inc. (www.Bigriversilkskincare.com). We manufacture and distribute steroid-free creams – called GlycoShea Hand&Body Cream/Standard Strength, and GlycoShea Hand&Body Cream/High Strength – containing a skin-smoothing ingredient – an Alpha-Hydroxy Acid – called Glycolic Acid - an organic and natural chemical originally discovered in sugarcane and pineapple. (1 oz of GlycoShea Hand&Body Cream/Standard Strength: $19.95/2 oz: $29.95; 8 oz: $89.95; 1 oz of GlycoShea Hand&Body Cream/High Strength: $29.95/2 oz; $44.95/8 oz: $134.95).

The moral of the story is “never itch in silence:” there is much new therapy to help with the itching and dryness of hand eczema. Consider getting evaluated by a Board-certified Dermatologist today. After all, our goal as Dermatologists is to return you to full function - be it through exercise, work, family, or hobbies - so you can enjoy life to its fullest. There's a lot we can do for you!

George Woodbury Jr. M.D. Dermatologist with Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates PC, 8143 Walnut Grove Road, CordovaR TN 38018. 1-901-753-0168 Info@rheumderm.com.

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