There are two types of hand eczema, dry form and wet form. Although it's commonly known as housewives eczema, hand eczema affects more than just women, particularly 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 factors to housewives eczema as well. The dry form occurs more frequently among barbers, medical professionals, chefs, etc. The weather also plays an effect; the dry cold winter makes our skin feel more dry than other part 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- intensively moisturizes skin, restores damaged skin barrier, reduces redness & cracks, irritation and dry patches. While steroid creams such as the over the counter hydrocortisone creams or ointments might have been 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 patches and cracked skin may cause discomfort or even pain, a strong, steroid-free moisturizer will improve dried or cracked skin condition 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 (dyshidrotic 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 do not 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.