Hand Dermatitis - Western SummaryWestern Medicine Summary

Western Medicine

Western Summary

Hand dermatitis, also known as hand eczema, comes in several different types.


  1. Atopic hand dermatitis: an itchy rash that affects the back of the hands and palms
  2. Dyshidrotic hand dermatitis: where 1-2mm itchy, watery blisters and pink bumps form on the fingers and palms, and eventually break open to form small, scaly rings
  3. Allergic contact hand dermatitis: a red, itchy rash with occasional water blisters 
  4. Irritant contact hand dermatitis: a burning, itching, red rash that affects the finger webs 
  5. Hyperkeratotic hand eczema: a chronic, dry rash on the hands with painful cracks

Chronic hand eczema is one of the most common occupational illnesses, due to frequent skin contact with chemicals that may trigger inflammation. One example would be a florist that develops an allergy to one of the flowers that they handle. The cuticles and fingernails may also become rough and damaged from inflammation.


Hand dermatitis is partly attributed to abnormalities in the skin’s protective layer, leading to increased water evaporation from the skin’s surface. Irritants, allergens, and infections can also penetrate more easily, allowing exaggerated immune reactions to cause chronic inflammation on the skin.



  • Topical or systemic steroids can decrease inflammation
  • Topical, antibiotic or antifungal medications for treating infections
  • Oral medications that suppress the immune system for chronic, persistent cases
  • Oral or topical retinoids, which are effective for hyperkeratotic hand dermatitis
  • Injection of a steroid solution directly into the affected areas
  • Phototherapy
  • Limit hand-washing and the use of harsh soaps
  • Use hand moisturizers frequently
  • Avoid contact with chemicals and materials that may cause irritation and allergic reactions (unfortunately, it is often difficult to identify the triggers)
  • Wear protective gloves when working with potential irritants and allergens