A Few Facts About Eczema On The Hands

Eczema on the hands is a condition where the skin on the hands first develops a rash which then becomes more inflamed, resulting in dry, cracked skin which may become itchy or painful, and in some cases infected. There are a number of things which can cause hand eczema. Not all of them are well understood, which can make treatment difficult at times and a cure often impossible. Like outbreaks of eczema elsewhere on the body, hand eczema may be a one time thing, or it may be a chronic condition, coming and going periodically. Eczema is usually either caused by something within the body, or is a response to an irritant or allergen coming into contact with the skin. Whatever its cause, eczema is not contagious.

Eczema on the hands, also known as hand dermatitis, is one of several types of eczema, which is actually a collection of skin disorders and is not a single disorder or disease. The most common type of eczema is atopic eczema, a condition usually brought about by coming into contact with an allergen, prompting a response, usually an overreaction, on the part of the immune system. Atopic eczema can often be genetic as we may inherit immune system strengths or weaknesses from our parents and their parents. Characteristics or an individual's skin often plays a role as well, with some people having sensitive skin, and others having tough skin, skin which is less apt to fall victim to eczema.

Allergens And Irritants - While eczema on the hands, or hand dermatitis, can be atopic in nature, it is most often caused by an external irritant or allergen, and fits in the category of what is called contact dermatitis. Actions as simple as repeated hand washing may bring on flare ups of contact dermatitis. Those who work as food preparers, or in medical facilities where they have to wash their hands constantly, tend to be more susceptible to outbreaks of eczema on the hands. While excessive washing in plain tap water can cause contact dermatitis, it is most apt to be the presence of a chemical substance, such as a soap, a detergent, or some other cleansing agent, whether it is intended for the hands or not, which may be to blame. Perfumes, latex gloves, and nickel, which may be in a ring or bracelet, are also common causes of hand eczema, as is contact with permanent hair dyes which contain chemicals known to be skin irritants.

Two Types Of Contact Dermatitis - Although atopic dermatitis is usually a function of abnormal workings of the immune system, contact dermatitis can also be caused by an external allergen as well as an external irritant. Eczema on the hands can either be a case of what is called irritant contact dermatitis or a case of allergic contact dermatitis. Whereas atopic dermatitis is more common among young children and infants, contact dermatitis more often than not occurs because of conditions in the workplace, and is therefore more common among adults. In either case, it's still eczema, but knowing the cause can at least help in its treatment or prevention.

Treatment And Prevention - At times the best treatment for eczema on the hands is simply to avoid the offending allergen or irritant completely wherever possible, once it has been determined what the allergen or irritant is. Moisturizers and emollients, which give the skin a layer of protection, can often be very helpful. It may be necessary to wear vinyl gloves in some instances, bearing in mind that wet skin due to sweat may trigger a flare up. There are topical medications that can help as well, or at least provide some relief, available both over the counter and through prescription for some more potent forms.




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