hand eczema from washing hands too muchHand Eczema and Hand Dermatitis are both the same thing and it can be a debilitating condition for those who suffer from it. If our eyes are the gateway to the soul, then our hands are the gateway to the majority of the interactions we do in every day life. The quality of life for sufferers of hand eczema / hand dermatitis can often be severally negatively affected by this condition.

DermNetNZ actually states that this type of dermatitis is more common amongst you adult females and accounts for 20-35% of all dermatitis, so it is not a rare condition. It is more common in those who already have some type of eczema or dermatitis, those who suffer from hay fever or other allergies as a child. Often this condition is linked to the sufferers occupation, those who work in health care, hair dressing, construction, cleaning agriculture and the food industry also are more likely to get this condition. This is because they are exposed to many chemicals in their jobs and when hands come into contact with chemicals this can create hand eczema flare ups.

Sufferers of this type of eczema often experience the following symptoms:

  • Very dry skin on the hands which is often chapped - this is usually the first sign of a flare up of hand eczema.
  • A burning sensation of the skin on and around the hands.
  • Itchy blisters can form
  • Scaly skin and inflamed skin that is very itchy
  • In more severe cases the skin around the hand can bleed or weep, form crusts and pus and be extremely painful

So what can be done to tackle this condition if you have it?

More often than not the cause of hand dermatitis is not 100% clear, but one of the main causes of the condition is contact with chemicals in the work place or contact with allergic substances - this is called Irritant Contact Dermatitis. Being exposed repeatedly to waters, soaps, detergents, oils, coolants, some food products, metals and plastics can stop the skin from repairing it's natural barrier. When this natural barrier is not repaired irritation can begin to occur and the above symptoms begin.

Another cause of this condition is allergic reactions during contact to an allergen. Some of the more common allergens are nickel, some food additives and fragrances, antibacterial products like cleaners and soaps, rubber and some plastics.

In both of the above cases prevention is the best cure. The first step is to try to identify the allergen or the irritant which is causing the eczema or dermatitis then change our lifestyle or workplace behaviours as much as possible to eliminate our exposure to the allergen or irritant.

Trying to maintain the natural oils in the skin which create a barrier between the skin on our hands and the outside environment is crucial to stopping hand eczema or dermatitis once and for all. If too much of the natural oils has been removed by constant exposure to allergens and irritants then usually suffers will try to replace the natural oils with another moisturiser such as petroleum jelly.

It is important to make sure to moisturise hands after each and every time after washing and drying hands, Gary Goldenberg M.D (assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai) has said, "“If you allow your skin to dry without any moisturiser after washing, this enhances the dryness and natural [skin] barrier breakdown." When washing your hands you may also want to consider washing them in filtered water. A basin tap filter on your basin tap will remove chemicals such as chlorine and reduce hardness in your water that is harsh on hand skin and can further irritate already sensitive skin. Chemicals such as Chlorine which are put into our tap water supplies, strip away the natural oils in our skin, further eradicating that all important natural barrier which is required for our skin to protect itself. At PureShowers.co.uk we have a great Basin Tap and Kitchen Tap Filter which our customers have reported have successfully helped them with their hand eczema and hand dermatitis conditions.

If you are suffering from hand dermatitis or hand eczema please leave some comments below and if you have any other remedies please let us know!