Dry hands vs hand eczema: what are the differences?

Presse Santé

Do you have dry, itchy hands that never seem to get better? Or do you have patches of dry, red skin on your hands that sometimes bleed or crack? In this case, you may be wondering if you have hand eczema. Both of these conditions can cause similar symptoms, but there are key differences between them. Keep reading to learn more about the difference between dry hands and hand eczema.

The telltale signs of dry skin are hard to miss: skin that’s slightly tight, a little flaky, and rough to the touch. There may also be visible peeling, which can be bothersome and uncomfortable. Luckily, applying your favorite hand lotion or cream usually fixes it quickly. But what if even your moisturizer isn’t doing the trick anymore?

Is it dryness or eczema of the hands?

Hand eczema, a form of skin allergy that affects the hands, is a medical condition that can easily be mistaken for just dry skin. How to make the difference ? If the dryness persists despite applying moisturizers, it is most likely eczema. Other symptoms include itching, redness or spotting, and cracking. In severe cases, the skin may also be painful to the touch and there may be bleeding. This is due to inflammation of the skin, a condition often called dermatitis. When the inflamed skin shows the symptoms mentioned above, then it is called eczema.

Here’s the tricky part: While dry skin is usually caused by over-washing or a change in the weather (especially when traveling to a very cold place), the cause of eczema is harder to pinpoint. Stress, allergies, chemical irritants and genetic factors are all considered to play a role in its development.

What did you know about the two types of contact dermatitis?

There are two main types of contact dermatitis: irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) and allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). They can also be called irritant eczema and allergic eczema respectively. Both types can and often do coexist.

Irritant eczema is a type of eczema caused by contact with something that irritates the skin, such as soap, chemicals, or even dust. Allergic eczema is caused by an allergic reaction to something in your environment, such as perfumes, plants or foods. In fact, when an irritant or allergen from outside or inside the body triggers the immune response, it triggers inflammation in the skin, which causes the symptoms. Also, contact dermatitis can occur anywhere in the body when there is exposure to an allergen.

Treatment of hand eczema.

For proper management of the condition, the doctor must first identify the origin of the problem. To get started, your dermatologist will need to take a detailed medical history of yours — your lifestyle, diet, and any health conditions that run in your family. People with asthma and food allergies are more likely to develop eczema because these conditions are linked to inflammation.

As for differentiating DIC from DCA, it can be quite difficult in the clinical setting. To determine the diagnosis, a thorough history and physical examination should be performed, along with appropriate diagnostic patch testing.

Also, the doctor will look at potential irritants that you often come into contact with. These include your personal hygiene products, such as hand sanitizers and alcohol, as well as items that you handle regularly, such as cleaning products and laundry soaps. Typically, your doctor will suggest an elimination system, in which you will need to avoid certain products for a period of time to see if it improves your condition.

To relieve itching and discomfort, you can also get away with these tips:

Wash your hands with lukewarm water.

Warm water can be very soothing to the skin. Just make sure it doesn’t get too hot or it will make the dryness worse. If your hands are chapped, you can also try soaking them in warm water for five to ten minutes and then patting them dry.

Opt for a hypoallergenic soap.

Replace your usual care with a hypoallergenic soap containing fewer ingredients. A good hypoallergenic soap will cleanse your skin without causing dryness or irritation. It is advisable to avoid perfumes, essential oils, preservatives and artificial colors. As it is recommended to use soaps made from vegetable oils rather than animal fats. Whenever you can, wash with water rather than a disinfectant.

Hydrate with the right products.

Combat the dryness and itchiness of eczema by using gentle, soothing moisturizers. They help strengthen and repair the skin barrier without causing further irritation.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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