Eczema on Hands: Symptoms, Prevention, Causes, and Treatment

hand eczema fingers

Hand Dermatitis, also known as eczema on hands, is a common skin condition found in about 10% of the U.S. population.

This kind of dermatitis is the result of particular internal and external factors that primarily impact the skin on the hands.

In general, we talk about eczema referring to an inflammatory reaction of the skin characterized by scaly rashes and itching

It is an inflammatory condition that is found mostly in job-related people who get exposed to all kind of allergens and pollutants.

Working people such as industrial workers, labors, washers, food service industry workers or agriculturists that get exposed to certain substances for a prolonged period are likely to get eczema on hands.

It dramatically affects the daily life, day to day chores, social life and confidence of a person.

Commonly seen as dry, itchy, scaly, swollen, red patchy skin on hands, it may not be fatal but adversely affects the lifestyle and may not respond to standard treatment and traditional remedies.

There are many different types of dermatitis that affect hands. In general terms, it is necessary to differentiate two: a group of eczema called irritative and the second group of allergic-type dermatitis.

Irritant eczema, constant exposure, or more often repeated and continuous irritant substances or factors, lead to skin lesions. It develops in all kinds of individual exposed to these factors or elements.

Allergic contact eczema develops in people previously sensitized to specific substances. It only appears in individuals in whom a minimal contact with the element to which it is allergic leads to eczema lesions.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, can be described as an itchy inflammation of the skin.

Usually, this inflammation occurs in hands, arms, elbows, and knees, although it can affect any part of your body. Most people who develop dermatitides, such as babies or children, continue to suffer from this condition, even when they are adults.

The tendency of this skin disease is that it can appear and disappear periodically. The symptoms of eczema may go away for months and then resurface suddenly. Outbreaks of inflammation can be prevented by following simple personal care measures.


Some of the common symptoms known for Hand Dermatitis are:

  • Itching
  • Dry, scaly and flaky patches
  • Pain
  • Red and swollen skin
  • Cracks and blisters in some cases
  • Burning sensation

What is the most common type of hand eczema?

By far the most common cause of eczema on the hands is irritating eczema.

Different factors such as excessive hand cleaning, maintained humidity, detergent agents, caustic or acidic products, dust or dirt, etc. Can alter the typical structure of the most superficial layer of the skin and produce eczema.

Professions such as health workers, cleaning staff, construction workers, gardeners and farmers, household workers, among others, are at high risk of developing, at some point, an episode of irritative eczema in the hands.

When to suspect that hand eczema is allergic in origin?

In general, when a skin reaction occurs, it features rashes with intense itching. If it spreads from the hands to other places, it is necessary to consult its dermatologist for abscess whether it is eczema of allergic contact.

Allergic (epicutaneous) tests can confirm that it is allergic type eczema. Its practice is not a sing of irritative types of dermatitis.

Hand Eczema Prevention

People with eczema on their hands have a high risk that their process will be chronic if they do not take measures to avoid it.

It is essential to avoid irritating factors that alter the skin barrier function and favor inflammation and eczema.

It is necessary to:

  • Avoid excessive washing of hands. In professions that require it, such as medical personnel, replace, as far as possible, washing with soap and water by hydroalcoholic solutions.
  • Avoid contact with aggressive chemicals such as detergents, acids, caustics (bleach) and solvents, using protective gloves.
  • Avoid the constant friction and mechanical wear of the skin, especially in professions such as construction, agriculture, and gardening, using gloves suitable for the job.

People should also periodically apply products to try to restore the malformed skin barrier.

A large number of creams, ointments, and ointments are available, with a different proportion of water and lipids respectively.

In general, when the skin is drier, ointments and ointments are preferred, although they are more oily and less pleasant to apply.

For daily maintenance and when the alterations are not very important, it is enough with products in cream and, more recently, in foams of easy application and pleasant cosmetic.

If your dermatologist has told you that you are allergic to a substance by contact, you should avoid contact with products containing this substance.

Is it enough to avoid irritants and apply moisturizing products to solve hand eczema?

In mild cases, the change of habits mentioned above can solve the problem.

In more advanced cases, it is necessary to consult your dermatologist to start a specific treatment for hand eczema that can decrease inflammation and improve itching.

Once the outbreak of eczema gets controlled, a change in daily habits is essential to avoid further episodes.


Although not clear, but some of the factors is reported to cause Chronic Hand Eczema. The three broadly categorized conditions that can be alone or in combination responsible for hand eczema.

  • Continuous exposure and contact with irritants like solvents, detergents, lubricants, oils, certain metals or food materials
  • Prolong exposure to some common allergens such as nickel, organic dyes, oils, soaps, ores or other substances
  • Atopic Dermatitis, in which eczema from other parts of the body may spread to hands.

Hand Eczema Treatment

As soon as one gets diagnosed with eczema on hands (mostly through patch testing), there are various treatments as prescribed by the doctors depending upon the intensity and individual case.

Besides maintaining a particular, prescribed lifestyle with necessary precautions and personal care, other treatment procedures include topical therapy, medications, and light therapy.