I've had this type of eczema since I was a child, but only realised what it was and what caused it over the last few months. I also tried a helpful routine which has ENORMOUSLY improved the condition. I know that it's totally different from what others have found useful. But it's been good for me!!!!
1. Although there may be a stress-related component as in all skin disorders, there is an extremely clear stimulus response. Any contact with a number or irritants will immediately
set off the condition (within minutes, if not seconds), with the resulting blistering/cracking then taking days, weeks, or months to eventually calm down again if left alone.
Known irritants (for me) include:
-fruit juice (avoid peeling with fingers etc.)
-the juice from tomatoes (avoid splashes while cutting)
-damp or dusty undergrowth (pollen? spores? humidity?)
-working with damp or dirty gardening gloves
-at times, anything that will make my hands even slightly moist, oily, sweaty etc. Sheesh!
In general, I also avoid all cleaning products, detergents, smelly soap etc.
2. While I've had steroid cream for other sorts of eczema (reactions to nickel, leather etc.) which has seemed to work quite well, the steroid cream never seemed to work on the blister / cracking syndrome.
3. Before even knowing what the condition was I'd noticed that the only thing that calmed the itch and the propagation of the blisters was washing my hands in REALLY HOT water. Later I heard about vinegar soaks and I eventually tried a variant of what is described in the link below.http://www.geocities.com/vyera/dyshidrosis/donmcg.html
Here's my routine which has made an enormous difference, with a great improvement in only 3-4 days.
- 4 times a day or so I fill the bottom of the basin with water as hot as I can stand (somewhere around 45-50° centigrade - hot enough for the skin to prickle and go pink without causing pain) in which I add about 10-20ml of clear distilled vinegar (like that used for pickling).
- I let my hands stand in the water for a couple of minutes then dry them with a towel, then finish drying with a kleenex to make sure there's no excess water.
- I rub in a little knob of vaseline and then wipe off any excess with a kleenex.
-Instead of instantly drying out again (as with other creams I've tried) the vaseline really seems to lock in the moisture. It also helps the dead skin to flake off quicker.
-Be careful not to pull flakes off if they're not coming on their own (they can tear to far and cause tiny little scars and more discomfort). Use clean nail clippers to clip off any tiny flakes that haven't fallen by themselves.
If I don't go through the super-hot soak first, the contact with any sort of cream can set off more blistering on contact. So it's important for me to soak before applying the cream. (I've also tried with zinc cream, but the vaseline really works best for me.)
Hope this helps somebody out.