Learn about the symptoms, causes and treatment of this skin condition that causes little blisters on the hands.
Dyshidrosis is a skin condition that causes small, fluid-filled blisters to form on the palms of the hands and sides of the fingers. Sometimes the bottoms of the feet are affected too.
The blisters that occur in dyshidrosis generally last around three weeks and cause intense itching. Once the blisters of dyshidrosis dry, your skin may appear scaly. The blisters typically recur, sometimes before your skin heals completely from the previous blisters.
Treatment for dyshidrosis most often includes creams or ointments that you rub on the affected skin. In severe cases, your doctor may suggest corticosteroid pills, such as prednisone, or injections. Dyshidrosis is also called dyshidrotic eczema and pompholyx.
The blisters associated with dyshidrosis occur most commonly on the sides of the fingers and the palms. Sometimes the soles of the feet also can be affected. The blisters are usually small — about the width of a standard pencil lead — and grouped in clusters, with an appearance similar to tapioca.
In more-severe cases, the small blisters may merge to form larger blisters. Skin affected by dyshidrosis can be painful and very itchy. The blisters dry and flake off in about three weeks.
Dyshidrosis tends to recur fairly regularly for months or years.
Call your doctor if you have a rash on your hands or feet that doesn't go away on its own.
The exact cause of dyshidrosis isn't known. It can be associated with a similar skin disorder called atopic dermatitis (eczema), as well as with allergic conditions, such as hay fever. Eruptions may be seasonal in people with nasal allergies.
Risk factors for dyshidrosis include:
For most people with dyshidrosis, it's just an itchy inconvenience. For others, the pain and itching may limit the use of their hands or feet. Intense scratching can increase the risk of a bacterial infection developing in the affected skin.
Because the cause of dyshidrosis is generally unknown, there's no proven way to prevent this condition. You may help prevent the condition by managing stress and avoiding exposure to metal salts, such as cobalt and nickel.
Good skin care practices may help protect the skin as well. These include:
In most cases, your doctor can diagnose dyshidrosis based on a physical exam. No lab test can specifically confirm a diagnosis of dyshidrosis, but your doctor may suggest tests to rule out other skin problems that have similar symptoms.
For example, a scraping of your skin can be tested for the type of fungus that causes athlete's foot. Skin allergies and sensitivities can be revealed by exposing patches of your skin to various substances.
Depending on the severity of your signs and symptoms, treatment options may include:
Corticosteroids. High-potency corticosteroid creams and ointments may help speed the disappearance of the blisters. Wrapping the treated area in plastic wrap can improve absorption. Moist compresses also may be applied after the application of a corticosteroid to enhance the absorption of the medication.
In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroid pills, such as prednisone. Long-term use of steroids can cause serious side effects.
Home treatment might include:
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor. He or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (dermatologist). Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
Before your appointment, you may want to write a list that answers the following questions:
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
June 5th, 2021