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Hand eczema (chronic hand eczema)

Hand eczema is a particularly bothersome and painful form of eczema, since the hands are a very visible part of the body.


Hand eczema can take several forms: vesicles, cracking, splitting, thickening of the skin, redness, etc. It can affect several areas, like the back of the hand, the palm or the fingertip. It is often referred to as chronic hand eczema because the disease lasts for a long time and alternates between periods of flare-up and remission.

Irritation is the primary agent responsible for hand eczema. There are several possible elements:
  • contact with aggressive chemical products such as detergents, soaps, etc.;
  • moisture caused by excessively frequent washing, incomplete drying or maceration;
  • cold;
  • repeated trauma such as rubbing, scratching, peeling off bits of skin, etc.

It quickly becomes evident that certain professions put people more at risk than others, especially manual professions: hairdressers, florists, food-related professionals, construction workers, etc.

Other causes can be found especially in patients with atopy or contact allergy.


Treatment first depends on applying topical corticosteroids to quickly restore healthy hands. Next, an emollient must be applied every day to limit recurrence. The aggravating factors must also be tracked and an alternative must be found where possible. For example, wearing gloves while doing the dishes or housework. In some cases, a job change might be required.

For hand eczema: apply the treatment in the evening before bed, and wear a cotton or vinyl glove over the cream. This prevents the sheets from getting dirty but also helps the active ingredients to be absorbed: the hands are supple and soft after a few days.