What is dyshidrosis and what symptoms does it produce?

Dermatitis or eczema are skin diseases that are caused by various factors, both emotional and external. The dyshidrosis It is part of this complex characterized by blisters, intense itching and a scaly sensation on the skin. It is a non-contagious condition, which can be complicated by the reappearance of blisters. Fortunately, the dermatological problem does not spread throughout the body and its symptoms are easily treatable with pharmaceutical ointments or corticosteroid pills.

How does dyshidrosis occur?

Dyshidrosis, also known as eczematous dermatosis or pomfólix, is caused by an inflammation in the skin and results in accumulations of liquids in small “pimples” that break and leave the skin peeling. The usual areas of its appearance are the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.

During the first stage of dyshidrosis, vesicles appear on the sides of the hand which cause intense itching. The blisters develop and group in small clusters, but there are cases where the blisters merge and form larger ones, transforming into a painful and very itchy disease.

The blisters take about three weeks to dry and peel, and the affected skin is exposed, red, and very tender to the touch. However, dyshidrosis usually reappears in the patient periodically for months or years. Unlike other eczema, dyshidrosis remains on the sides of the hands and feet. It is uncommon for it to spread to other parts of the body such as the face, legs or back.

Most common symptoms

The characteristic symptoms of this skin disease are:

  • Half-millimeter ampoules with liquid inside
  • Peeling skin
  • Painful cracks after peeling
  • Irritation in the affected and adjacent area
  • Thickening of the skin with chronic appearance of the vesicles
  • Crusting when the person scratches
  • Inflammation of the skin around the injury

How is it diagnosed?

Dyshidrosis can be easily diagnosed by general practitioners or dermatologists. A visualization of the skin and the shape of the blisters is sufficient, although there are specialists who prefer biopsies of the lesion to rule out infections of another origin.

Dyshidrosis may develop as a bypass of another skin condition. For example, a patient with a fungal foot infection may develop dyshidrosis in his hands.


For being a skin disease that manifests superficially, the treatment is based on drying creams with an antiseptic effect or on the administration of oral corticosteroids. For recurrent cases, they usually recommend stronger anti-inflammatories such as cyclosporine.

It is important to know that dyshidrosis does not have a definitive cure at the moment. The treatments allow to control the number of times of its outbreaks and the symptoms of itching and inflammation, these last one or two weeks, complementing with wet dressings on the lesions to dry the liquid and accelerate the healing process of the vesicles.

In case of bacterial infection due to exposure of sensitive skin during peeling, antibiotics are prescribed. To combat dry skin or prevent the appearance of painful cracks, emollient products are useful, as well as moisturizers for the prevention of cracks. In view of the fact that dyshidrosis is recurrent and the reappearance times between flare-ups vary, the patient must keep his skin hydrated with pharmaceutical creams.

The topical or oral administration of corticosteroids also helps in the disappearance of blisters. If the outbreak is very serious, the doctor may prescribe its consumption in pills such as prednisone.

When the itching is intense and unbearable for the patient, antihistamines for oral consumption help to calm the problem. On the other hand, there are special treatments such as phototherapy, known by its initials PUVA. The latter consists of exposure to ultraviolet light, but first the patient must take a special medication by mouth hours before exposure. Keep in mind that phototherapy can take several weeks to manage all the symptoms of the disease. Everything will depend on the urgency and the evolutionary state of the patient with the vesicles.

In the end, it is the dermatologist who will indicate the best measures to alleviate the condition because this type of dermatitis can be confused with other similar ones, such as allergic contact or irritation due to chemical elements.

Considerations to take into account

Dyshidrosis is part of eczema caused by emotional factors such as stress and external circumstances such as sudden changes in temperature. To avoid its appearance, it is advisable to take care of mental health and always keep the skin protected with its proper hydration and hygiene.

Anyone of any age and gender can get dyshidrotic eczema. In countries with climatic seasons, it usually appears frequently during spring and fall. Those with hypersensitivity to the skin may be susceptible to dermatitis if they do not take general care and hygiene measures.

Also see what folliculitis is and how to treat it.

Prevention of dyshidrosis

The causes of dyshidrosis remain unknown, so there are no proven clinical ways to prevent the disease. However, managing stress and reducing exposure to chemical materials like cobalt and nickel are one way to prevent it. Other general preventive measures are:

  • Wash your hands with lukewarm water
  • Avoid direct contact of the hands and feet with strong cleaners in its composition
  • Build the habit of moisturizing the skin, especially the hands that are exposed on a day-to-day basis
  • Wear gloves when handling solvents or acidic fruits such as lemon

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