There are two types of hand eczema (also known as hand dermatitis), dry form and wet form. Although it's commonly known as housewives eczema, hand eczema affects more than just women, particularly the wet form hand eczema. The dry form leads to dry skin and little cracks on the finger tips (possibly other parts of the hand). Skin may harden which leads to even more cracks. The dry form affects more women than men. Household work that involves cleaning or frequent water exposure often will make symptoms worse and prolong the healing process. There is an occupational factor too– dry form occurs more frequently among barbers, medical professionals, chefs, etc. The weather plays an effect as well. The dry cold winter makes our skin feel more dry than during other parts of the year.
Drinking a lot of water will not sufficiently hydrate skin and is unlikely to improve hand eczema. The best way to deal with this chronic skin disorder is to moisturize your skin. An ideal moisturizer for hand eczema offers three functions- intensive moisturizing, restoration of the damaged skin barrier, and reduction of redness, irritation and dry cracks.
While steroid creams might be commonly recommended, it is important to know that the dry form of hand eczema does not itch. Furthermore, our hands contact many different objects, materials and parts of our own body throughout the day. Steroid cream on the finger tips will rub off to whatever object they touch. While dry and cracked skin may cause discomfort or even pain, a strong, steroid-free moisturizer will improve dried or cracked skin conditions significantly and quickly without any potential side effects. So why not give it try first before turning to prescription medication?
The wet form hand eczema is a different story. It's often associated with blisters, oozing, and itchy rashes. There are often contact irritants or triggers involved and the seasonal changes donot really make a difference. Carefully observing what material could worsen your symptoms is key. For the severe cases of hand eczema, medical treatment may be necessary to ease the symptoms. Identifying the triggers is very important to avoid future flare ups. Using a good moisturizer in between medical treatments may accelerate the healing process or ease the symptoms.