Hand Eczema: Symptoms and Treatment

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition usually present in children but also seen in adults. It is one of the most common skin conditions with over 9.6 million children from the United States suffering from it alone. Estimates vary, but the prevalence of eczema on a global scale is seen to be 15% to 20% in children.

Understanding Hand Eczema

The scientific term for eczema is ‘Atopic dermatitis,’ and it usually persists for life and hence is chronic in nature. This chronic condition is seen to be hereditary in origin and greatly reduces the quality of life of those suffering from it. Eczema can present on any part of the body, including the face, hands, arms, legs, feet, etc., but is mostly seen in areas most exposed to the environment.

Hand eczema also known as hand dermatitis is one of the most common types of eczema seen in young adults.

What Causes Eczema on Hands?

Many different factors can play a role in the development of eczema. Some of these factors are discussed below;


This condition has a genetic predisposition. Therefore, a positive family history of eczema is linked greatly to all types of eczema. If you or anyone in your family has a medical history of atopic dermatitis, asthma, allergies, or hay fever, you are more likely to develop eczema.

Environmental Factors

There are many allergens present in our environment that can cause eczema flare-ups on our hands. Some of the most common are

  • Excessive washing
  • Dry skin
  • Chemicals in soaps and hand wash
  • Chemicals in household products
  • Latex gloves
  • Dry air 

Occupational Aspects

Many occupations involve the constant use of chemicals with hands. Extensive exposure to these chemicals damages the skin. These chemicals react with the skin’s surface and trigger the body’s inflammatory responses, resulting in hand eczema.


Although the researchers do not fully understand the connection between eczema and stress, in some cases, stress can trigger eczema, which is then classified as stress-related eczema on hands

Hand Eczema Symptoms

There can be many symptoms of eczema, which can make a person extremely uncomfortable. Some of the most common symptoms of eczema rash on hands are:

When skin with a disrupted barrier comes into contact with an offending allergen or chemical, it can lose excessive moisture.

Extreme itchiness is a common symptom of eczema that arises whenever it flares up. It can be very irritating and become worse if not taken care of.  Intense itching and scratching can also lead to infection. 

  • Red Rashes

When an allergen comes in contact with the skin, the inflammatory process causes red rashes. These rashes may appear red or pink on lighter skin tones and purple or brown on darker skin tones.

  • Darkening and Thickening of Skin

Itching and irritation for a long period can cause the skin to become thick and leather, and the wrinkles become more prominent, which is called lichenification.

Constant dryness as well as scratching can result in the skin becoming scaly, flaky, and crusty.

  • Skin Oozing Fluid or Blood

Hand eczema is very likely to cause infections if hand eczema is not managed. The constant itchiness and scratches cause breaks in the skin, which may result in blood or clear fluids coming out of the affected area.

  • Inflammation 

Eczema itself is caused by a reaction of the immune system when the body comes in contact with an allergen or irritant–the body’s immune response leads to the visible manifestation of inflamed skin. 

  • Blisters

Small bumps may appear on your hand, these fluid-filled bumps and blisters when scratched, break open, and cause raw, weeping skin.

  • Burning sensation

The extreme dryness caused on the skin can lead to a feeling of tingling sensation or burning sensation. Especially when the skin comes in contact with irritating chemicals and fragrances in the skincare products.

  • Swelling 

This mostly only appears in severe eczema cases. The hands may become swollen and painful.

Types of Eczema on Hands

The most common types of eczema experienced by young adults on the hands are

How to Treat Eczema on Hands?

The biggest problem in dealing with eczema is its chronic nature. There have been many types of research done to treat this specific skin condition, but no definite treatment has seen the light of the day. 

Eczema flares from time to time, and hand eczema is strongly associated with occupational triggers. These chemicals can be detergents, mild bleaches, or dyes.

Avoid Triggers

Even though it is complicated to figure out what might be triggering your hand eczema, keep an eye on when it flares up the most. You can also consult a dermatologist or allergist, who may perform a patch test to check which irritant or allergen is your trigger, so that you can avoid it.

Keep Your Skin Moisturized

The best way to manage hand eczema is to ensure that hands are always moisturized and kept away from drying agents.

  • Keep your skin moisturized with an emollient or an eczema cream.
  • Moisturize your hands at least twice daily once in the morning and once before going to bed.
  • Moisturize your skin every time you wash your hands. Keep an eczema cream near your sink.
  • Choose a hypoallergenic eczema cream that is free from harsh chemicals and infused with natural ingredients.

Keep them Clean

  • Wash hands with an eczema cleanser that is free from harsh chemicals. 
  • Use lukewarm or cool water to wash your hands.
  • Don’t wash your hands too often.
  • Look for an eczema body wash or hand wash that is fragrance-free, dye-free, sulfate-free, and paraben-free.
  • An eczema cleanser with a low pH level will clean your skin while soothing your eczema symptoms.

Topical Steroids

Your physician, depending on the severity, may prescribe a steroid cream to be used in addition to the twice-daily moisturizing cream to calm the inflammation. It is important that you use topical steroids only according to the doctor’s prescription, as using them for a long period of time can cause other complications.

Cover Your Hands

While doing your house chores make sure to wear cotton gloves to protect your hands from chemicals, dust, and other allergens. Don’t wear latex gloves as these can cause an eczema flare-up. 

If your occupation is related to working with chemicals or most of the work is done with hands then cover them with gloves. 

Best Hand Cream for Eczema

Eczema Cream

If you are looking for a good hand eczema cream, try Happy Cappy Moisturizing Cream for Eczema. It is infused with licorice root extract to soothe redness and glycerin to draw moisture into the skin. It contains pharmaceutical-grade petroleum jelly in a sophisticated formulation making it non-greasy, fast-absorbing, and keeps your skin hydrated all day long.

It has been rated 100% safe by SkinSafe for use by people of all ages, even babies. 


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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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How do you identify if you have hand eczema?

Suppose you notice that the skin of your hand is becoming excessively dry. In that case, scaly patches may be forming, and if you are experiencing itchy lesions there are chances that you may have developed hand eczema, which is in the acute phase.

Is hand eczema permanent?

Eczema symptoms usually stay for a few weeks before they start disappearing with the help of treatment. There are chances that acute eczema may resolve entirely after treatment, and chronic eczema may resolve for the time being, but the flare-ups of eczema can persist throughout life.

Can alcohol cause eczema on hands?

There is no scientific evidence that shows that alcohol can trigger eczema flare-ups. However, a few say that itchiness, redness, and inflammation associated with eczema worsen when they drink. This may be because alcohol can stimulate inflammation in the body.

Can hand eczema cause swelling?

The fingers may become swollen due to itching, irritation, and dryness. If hand eczema is not treated, it can become severe, causing the hands to become more dry, cracks, red, and swollen, making everyday tasks more difficult.

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