Years ago I awoke one morning to find tiny, clear, itchy blisters on a few of my fingers. Thinking it was poison ivy, I scratched them open, poured rubbing alcohol on it, and moved on with my life. (I was in my 20’s, what can I say?) Time went on and it happened again. This time I was pretty sure I hadn’t been in the woods or anywhere poison ivy would be, but I handled it the same way. The third time, it was in the dead of winter. I knew for a fact it couldn’t be poison ivy. And when I thought about it, I have never had poison ivy in my entire life.
Years went by and I would occasionally have these little outbreaks of the blisters on my fingers. They were typically in-between my fingers. I searched online for an answer but found nothing. Eventually, I discovered an article on Dishidrotic Eczema. And I finally knew what was wrong with me. Here are signs of it, as listed on the website of the National Eczema Association:
Symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema include:
- Deep-set blisters on the edges of the fingers, toes, palms and soles of the feet
- Scaly, cracked skin
This particular form of eczema appears a tiny blisters which are extremely itchy. If you scratch them to relieve the itch, however, they not only get even itchier, but they spread. Super awesome, right? The skin can also thicken over time from all of the irritation, which – you guessed it – just makes the problem worse.
I eventually went to my doctor and he confirmed that it was, indeed, Dishidrotic Eczema. And so, finally having named the beast, I worked to find an answer. It has no cure, and it’s also not contagious, so don’t worry about spreading it to others. But since there is no cure, that means you have to just work to maintain it and keep it at bay. Several things can cause an outbreak. For me, stress is the biggest cause. Another is heat. The third biggest cause for me is water. A lot of handwashing will cause an outbreak. Just another hilarious joke on me from the universe since I also have OCD and – yes, you guessed it, wash my hands a lot. Let me list some things that can cause outbreaks for you here, which I also snagged from the website of the National Eczema Association. You can read more on there website here: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/types-of-eczema/dyshidrotic-eczema/
Common triggers for dyshidrotic eczema:
- Moist hands and feet from excessive sweating or prolonged contact with water
- Nickel in everyday objects such as jewelry, keys, cell phones, eyeglass frames, stainless steel items, and metal buttons, snaps and zippers
- Nickel in foods such as cocoa, chocolate, soy beans, oatmeal, nuts, almonds, fresh and dried legumes, and canned foods
- Cobalt in everyday objects such as cobalt-blue colored dishware, paints and varnishes; certain medical equipment; jewelry; and in metal snaps, buttons and zippers
- Cobalt in foods such as clams, fish, leafy green vegetables, liver, milk, nuts, oysters, and red meat
- Chromium salts used in the manufacturing of cement, mortar, leather, paints and anticorrosives
So how do I live with it every day? Some days it’s just not there. These are days when my outbreak triggers are at bay. When they aren’t? Things can get bad really quickly for me, especially in times of high stress. I’ve had a couple of outbreaks that spread all over my hands and up my arms, almost to my elbows. The upside? If I’m not managing my stressors, my eczema lets me know it immediately. So I’m just taking that as a signal my body is sending me to get things back on track.
The best way to manage it is to avoid your triggers once you know what they are. But we don’t live in a perfect world, so outbreaks will happen. Here are the products I use to deal with it. (All of the links below contain my Amazon affiliate link).
GREEN GOO Find it here: https://amzn.to/2zdoaCc
Green Goo is a salve that I use for anything from mosquito bites (I’m allergic, so when they bite me I get these massive, itchy welts on my skin), to sunburn. It also helps with my eczema. When I feel itchy between my fingers and I know something is starting to flare up, I grab this and put it on the area to stop the itching.
ALOE VERA GEL Find it here: https://amzn.to/2MUKIJS
Aloe Vera is incredibly soothing for the skin. This one is the one I use, but I’d imagine any would do the trick. It’s great for soothing irritation and it can help with the itching as well.
FIRST AID BEAUTY ULTRA REPAIR CREAM Find it here: https://amzn.to/2tVRF6n
Another hilarious aspect to this whole thing is that they recommend using creams and lotion to keep this eczema at bay. But for me, most creams and lotions actually aggravate the condition. This is the one cream I’ve found that doesn’t. I actually used it for awhile before reading it and seeing that it states right on it that it helps with eczema.
CLOBETASOL PROPIONATE CREAM
This cream is prescription strength and it’s a corticosteroid. Mine is prescribed by my doctor. I save this for the times when an outbreak is simply out of my control. It handles it quickly and gets things back in check. I use it very sparingly, as a little bit goes a long way. But I try to avoid using it a lot and use the first three things I listed more often.
Hopefully this has helped you. I wish I’d stumbled upon a blog like this years ago when I was wondering what in the hell was wrong with me. Have you found other ways of dealing with your dishidrotic eczema? If so, comment below!