What is Dyshidrotic Eczema & What are its Symptoms?

What is Dyshidrotic Eczema & What are its Symptoms
What is Dyshidrotic Eczema & What are its Symptoms
Introduction of Dyshidrotic Eczema

Dyshidrotic Eczema, also known as Dyshidrosis, is a skin condition that causes blisters on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. There is no cure for dyshidrotic eczema yet, but it is manageable . In mild cases of dyshidrotic eczema, the blisters usually go away on their own.

What Is Dyshidrotic Eczema?

Dyshidrotic Eczema is a skin condition that causes fluid-filled blisters on the hands and the back of the foot. These blisters last for about three weeks and cause severe itching. Once the blisters dry out, the skin may appear scaly or dry. In some cases, the blisters may recur. Sometimes, they recur even before the previous blisters disappear entirely.

What are the Symptoms of Dyshidrotic Eczema?

The blisters linked to dyshidrosis occur most commonly on the sides of your fingers and the palms. Sometimes the soles of your feet can also be affected. The blisters are generally small — about the width of a standard pencil lead — and grouped in clusters.

In more-serious cases, the small blisters may merge to become larger blisters. The skin affected by dyshidrosis can become very itchy and painful. Once the blisters get dry and flake off (which occurs in about 3 weeks), the underlying skin might be red and tender.

Dyshidrosis tends to recur fairly regularly for months or years.

In most cases, dyshidrotic eczema goes away in about two to three weeks. Even after the blisters disappear, the skin underneath can be tender and red for a few days.

Dyshidrotic Eczema can be mild or severe. If you develop severe dyshidrotic eczema on your feet, you may face difficulty walking. Severe cases of blisters on hands may make it difficult for you to carry out daily chores.

If you scratch the blisters, it may get infected and cause pain. The common signs of infection include:

  • Pus in the blisters
  • Swelling
  • Severe pain
  • Crusting

When should you visit the Doctor?

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, immediately seek medical assistance. Mild cases of dyshidrotic eczema are easy to treat. An early diagnosis may help speed up your recovery process.

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The doctor may prescribe medicines, creams, or lotions that work best for you after diagnosing the condition.

What Causes Dyshidrotic Eczema?

The exact causes of dyshidrotic eczema are not known yet. But experts believe that these blisters may be related to allergies. You are more likely to develop dyshidrotic eczema if you have a family history of the condition, allergies such as hay fever, and other forms of eczema.

The following factors are believed to cause dyshidrotic eczema:

  • Wet or sweaty hands and feet
  • Humid and warm weather
  • Contact with certain metals such as cobalt, nickel, and chromium
  • HIV infection
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Some treatments for a weak immune system

What are the Risk Factors associated with Dyshidrotic Eczema?

The risk factors associated with dyshidrotic eczema include:

  • Sensitive skin

If you have sensitive skin, you are at a higher risk of developing dyshidrotic eczema. If you develop a rash, the chances of it developing into dyshidrotic eczema may increase.

  • Stress

Dyshidrotic eczema occurs more commonly during times of physical or emotional stress. If you get stressed easily, there is a higher chance of you developing dyshidrotic eczema.

  • Exposure to some metals

If you work in an industrial setting where the amount of metals such as nickel and cobalt is more, and you come in contact with these metals, your chances of developing dyshidrotic eczema may increase.

  • Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is an itchy inflammation of the skin. If you have this condition, you are at an increased risk of developing dyshidrotic eczema.

What Complications can arise if Dyshidrotic Eczema is left untreated?

For some people with dyshidrotic eczema, it is just a mild inconvenience. For others, the itch and pain may limit the use of their hands and feet. If the blisters do not go away on their own, the risk of bacterial infection may increase. This can lead to pus-filled blisters and intense pain.

Are there any Preventive Measures for Dyshidrotic Eczema?

Since dyshidrotic eczema causes are not known yet, there is no way to completely prevent it. However, certain preventive measures may help control the condition. These include:

  • Managing stress
  • Avoiding exposure to some metals such as nickel and cobalt
  • Moisturizing hands and feet regularly
  • Wearing gloves wherever required
  • Using mild cleansers and warm water to clean hands

How is Dyshidrotic Eczema Diagnosed?

The doctor will be able to diagnose dyshidrotic eczema by physically examining the skin and blisters. In order to rule out other similar skin conditions, the doctor may choose to run certain lab tests.

The tests may include a skin biopsy, where the doctor will remove a small patch of your skin for laboratory analysis. This test can rule out other possible causes of dyshidrotic eczemas, such as a fungal infection.

Allergy skin testing may be carried out if the doctor believes your blisters are caused due to skin allergies.

What are the Treatment Options available for Dyshidrotic Eczema?

After carefully examining the symptoms and severity of dyshidrotic eczema, the doctor may prescribe the appropriate treatment option for you. The treatment options include:

  • Corticosteroids

Corticosteroid ointments and creams may help reduce the appearance of the blisters. After the application of the corticosteroid, the affected area can be wrapped in a plastic wrap to improve the healing process. Moist compresses can also be used for a better absorption of the  corticosteroid.

In severe cases of dyshidrotic eczema, oral corticosteroid pills may be prescribed.

  • Immune-suppressing ointments

If you want to limit your exposure to steroids, the doctor can prescribe immune-suppressing ointments. These ointments contain medicines such as pimecrolimus and tacrolimus that help heal the blisters.

These medications come with an increased side effect of skin infection.

  • Phototherapy

If other treatments are not responsive, the doctor may recommend an alternate method known as phototherapy. It is a special light therapy that combines drugs with exposure to ultraviolet light.

  • Botulinum toxin injections

To treat severe cases of dyshidrotic eczema, the doctor may recommend botulinum toxin injections.

If you have mild dyshidrotic eczema, the doctor may prescribe antihistamines to help relieve the symptoms.


Blisters are the most common symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema. As there is no cure yet, an early diagnosis and appropriate medications may help speed up the recovery process. If it is left untreated, the blisters may get infected and cause severe pain. If you notice rashes or mild blisters on your palms or feet, immediately get it checked by a doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can Dyshidrotic Eczema spread to other areas?

In mild cases, the blisters remain in a very few areas of the skin. In severe cases, the blisters may get bigger and spread to the back of the hands, feet, and limbs.

2. Does popping Dyshidrotic Eczema blisters make it spread?

Popping blisters deliberately can make it worse. It may also cause bacterial infections and fill the blisters with pus. But sometimes, the blisters may pop on their own, which may provide relief.

3. Is sunlight good for Dyshidrotic Eczema?

Along with provision of vitamin D, sunlight has other benefits as well. Studies show that exposure to UV radiation may help reduce skin inflammation, itchiness, dryness, and rashes caused by dyshidrotic eczema.

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