|Dyshidrosis / Dyshidrotic eczema / Pompholyx|
The characteristic vesicles of dyshidrosis on a finger
|Classification and external resources|
Dyshidrosis (//, also known as "acute vesiculobullous hand eczema," "cheiropompholyx," "dyshidrotic eczema," "pompholyx," and "podopompholyx") is a skin condition that is characterized by small blisters on the hands or feet. It is an acute, chronic, or recurrent dermatosis of the fingers, palms, and soles, characterized by a sudden onset of many deep-seated pruritic, clear vesicles; later, scaling, fissures and lichenification occur. Recurrence is common and for many can be chronic. Incidence/prevalence is said to be 1/5,000 in the United States. However, many cases of eczema are diagnosed as garden-variety atopic eczema without further investigation, so it is possible that this figure is misleading.
This condition is not contagious to others, but the compromised integument can increase susceptibility to infection, and the accompanying itching can be a source of psychological distress.
The name comes from the word "dyshidrotic," meaning "bad sweating," which was once believed to be the cause, but this association is unproven; there are many cases present that have no history of excessive sweating. There are many different factors that may trigger the outbreak of dyshidrosis such as allergens, physical and/or mental stress, or seasonal changes.
Signs and symptoms
Small blisters with the following characteristics:
- Blisters are very small (3 mm or less in diameter). They appear on the tips and sides of the fingers, toes, palms, and soles.
- Blisters are opaque and deep-seated; they are either flush with the skin or slightly elevated and do not break easily. Eventually, small blisters come together and form large blisters.
- Blisters may itch, cause pain, or produce no symptoms at all. They worsen after contact with soap, water, or irritating substances.
- Scratching blisters breaks them, releasing the fluid inside, causing the skin to crust and eventually crack. This cracking is painful as well as unsightly and often takes weeks, or even months to heal. The skin is dry and scaly during this period.
- Fluid from the blisters is serum that accumulates between the irritated skin cells. It is not sweat as was previously thought.
- In some cases, as the blistering takes place in the palms or finger, lymph node swelling may accompany the outbreak. This is characterised by tingling feeling in the forearm and bumps present in the arm pits.
- Nails on affected fingers, or toes, may take on a pitted appearance.
Causes of dyshidrosis are unknown. However, a number of triggers to the condition may include:
- Allergic reactions of various kinds, including allergies to nickel which is present in many foods and vitamins (e.g., oatmeal, canned foods).
- A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study by the University Medical Center Groningen reported that dishydrosis outbreaks on the hands increased significantly among those allergic to house dust mites, following inhalation of house dust mite allergen.
There are many treatments available for dyshidrosis. However, few of them have been developed or tested specifically on the condition.
- Topical steroids - while useful, can be dangerous long-term due to the skin-thinning side-effects, which are particularly troublesome in the context of hand dyshidrosis, due to the amount of toxins and bacteria the hands typically come in contact with.
- Potassium permanganate dilute solution soaks - also popular, and used to 'dry out' the vesicles, and kill off superficial Staphylococcus aureus, but it can also be very painful. Undiluted it may cause significant burning.
- Dapsone (diamino-diphenyl sulfone) is an antibacterial sulfonamide. It has been recommended for the treatment of dyshidrosis in some chronic cases.
- Antihistamines: Fexofenadine up to 180 mg per day.
- Alitretinoin (9-cis-retinoic acid) has been approved for prescription in the UK. It is specifically used for chronic hand and foot eczema. It is made by Basilea of Switzerland (BAL 4079).
- In the case of a nickel allergy or sensitivity a low nickel diet may lead to improvement. This includes avoiding high nickel foods like oatmeal and chocolate, canned foods (especially acidic foods like pineapple and tomato that leach metal from the can), and using vitamins that do not contain nickel. In this situation avoiding excessive exposure to environmental nickel may also be helpful, such as not using stainless steel pots and silverware.
- Epidermolysis bullosa - a genetic disorder that causes similar, but more severe, symptoms to dyshidrosis
- Dermatitis herpetiformis - a similar condition caused by celiac and often mistaken with dyshidrosis
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dyshidrosis.|
- Dyshidrotic eczema at MedlinePlus
- Images of dyshidrotic eczema at Skinsight
- Pompholyx at DermNet NZ (New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated)
- Information, advice and shared experiences for Pompholyx sufferers