Can Allergies Cause or Worsen Dyshidrotic Eczema?

Published: December 1, 2011

Q. After months of misery, I’ve finally been diagnosed with dyshidrotic eczema on my hands. My doctor says it’s genetic, but since I have asthma and environmental allergies, I wonder could this be caused or worsened by an allergy?

Dr. Skotnicki: Dyshidrotic eczema, also known as pompholyx, is indeed a genetic skin disease, characterized by fluid-filled blisters on your hands, sides of your fingers and soles of your feet. The blisters, known as vesicles or bullae, usually come and go in three-week cycles. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that although the condition can vary in severity from mild to severe, it causes intense and sometimes even debilitating itching.

We don’t know exactly why people get dyshidrotic eczema, but we do know what aggravates it. Irritants, including harsh detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate, used in many cleaning and hygiene products, can make it a lot worse.

Be sure to use non-foaming, fragrance-free hand cleanser. Sweat can cause dyshidrotic eczema to flare up, so don’t wear rubber gloves for more than 20 minutes at a time, or wear cotton gloves under the rubber ones.

Unfortunately, even water itself can worsen the condition, so don’t wash your hands more than you need to. Over-the counter barrier creams such as Prevex and Cetaphil Barrier Cream can protect the skin from irritants.

As a general rule, allergy has little to do with dyshidrotic eczema, but it wouldn’t hurt to get it ruled out, as it can mimic the condition.

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