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Treating Hand Dermatitis in St. Louis

Updated: May 10, 2023

A hand with moisturizer being applied to it
Hand Dermatitis St. Louis

At Mid-County Dermatology at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, we understand the discomfort and frustration that hand dermatitis can cause. Hand dermatitis, also known as hand eczema, is a common skin condition that affects the hands and fingers, causing redness, itching, dryness, and sometimes even painful cracks or blisters. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for hand dermatitis, providing you with valuable information to help you understand and manage this condition effectively.

Understanding Hand Dermatitis

Hand dermatitis is a type of eczema that specifically affects the skin on the hands and fingers. It is a chronic condition that can be triggered by various factors, including genetics, allergies, irritants, and environmental factors. Hand dermatitis can affect people of all ages, genders, and skin types, and it can have a significant impact on one's quality of life.

Causes of Hand Dermatitis

The exact cause of hand dermatitis is often multifactorial, and it can vary from person to person. Some common causes of hand dermatitis include:

  1. Genetics: There is evidence to suggest that genetics may play a role in the development of hand dermatitis. If you have a family history of eczema or other allergic conditions, you may be more predisposed to developing hand dermatitis.

  2. Allergies: Allergens, such as certain foods, metals, or chemicals, can trigger hand dermatitis in some individuals. Common allergens that may cause hand dermatitis include nickel, fragrances, preservatives, and rubber.

  3. Irritants: Contact with irritants, such as detergents, soaps, solvents, and chemicals, can damage the skin's protective barrier and trigger hand dermatitis. Occupational exposure to irritants, such as in healthcare, cleaning, or hairdressing, can increase the risk of developing hand dermatitis.

  4. Environmental Factors: Environmental factors, such as cold weather, dry air, and excessive hand washing, can exacerbate hand dermatitis. Frequent exposure to water and soap can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness, cracking, and irritation.

Symptoms of Hand Dermatitis

The symptoms of hand dermatitis can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Common symptoms of hand dermatitis may include:

  • Redness and inflammation of the skin

  • Itching and dryness

  • Swelling and tenderness

  • Formation of small blisters or cracks

  • Pain or discomfort

  • Thickening or scaling of the skin

These symptoms can be not only physically uncomfortable but also emotionally distressing, as hand dermatitis can interfere with daily activities that involve using the hands, such as washing dishes, typing, or even shaking hands with others.

Treatment Options for Hand Dermatitis

The treatment of hand dermatitis typically involves a multifaceted approach that aims to reduce symptoms, manage triggers, and promote skin healing. Here are some common treatment options for hand dermatitis:

  1. Topical Corticosteroids: Topical corticosteroids are commonly prescribed by dermatologists to reduce inflammation and relieve itching associated with hand dermatitis. These medications come in different strengths and can be applied directly to the affected areas of the skin. However, prolonged use of corticosteroids can have side effects, so it's important to follow your dermatologist's instructions and use them as prescribed.

  2. Emollients and Moisturizers: Regular use of emollients and moisturizers can help to restore and maintain the skin's natural barrier, preventing dryness and cracking. Look for emollients and moisturizers that are fragrance-free and specifically formulated for sensitive or eczema-prone skin. Applying them generously and frequently, especially after hand washing or exposure to water, can help to keep the skin hydrated and protected.

  3. Avoidance of Triggers: Identifying and avoiding triggers that may exacerbate hand dermatitis is an essential part of managing this condition. This may involve avoiding contact with known irritants or allergens, wearing protective gloves when handling potentially irritating substances, and making lifestyle changes, such as avoiding excessive hand washing or using lukewarm water instead of hot water.

  4. Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors: Topical calcineurin inhibitors, such as tacrolimus and pimecrolimus, are non-steroidal medications that can be used as an alternative to corticosteroids for managing hand dermatitis. They work by reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune response in the skin. However, like corticosteroids, these medications should be used under the guidance of a dermatologist.

  5. Phototherapy: Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, involves exposing the skin to controlled amounts of ultraviolet (UV) light to reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms of hand dermatitis. This treatment option is usually reserved for more severe cases of hand dermatitis and should be done under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

  6. Oral Medications: In some cases, oral medications, such as antihistamines or immunosuppressants, may be prescribed by a dermatologist to help manage the symptoms of hand dermatitis. These medications work by reducing itching, inflammation, and immune responses that can contribute to hand dermatitis.

  7. Skin Care Routine: Establishing a gentle and consistent skin care routine can also play a crucial role in managing hand dermatitis. This may include using mild, fragrance-free soaps or cleansers, avoiding hot water for hand washing, patting the skin dry instead of rubbing, and applying emollients or moisturizers immediately after hand washing or exposure to water.

  8. Lifestyle Modifications: Making certain lifestyle modifications can also help in managing hand dermatitis. This may involve avoiding or reducing stress, maintaining a healthy diet with adequate hydration, and avoiding smoking or excessive alcohol consumption, as these factors can potentially worsen hand dermatitis symptoms.

  9. Injectable Medications: Biomodulating medications like Dupixent may be recommended to control your hand rash.


Hand dermatitis can be a distressing and uncomfortable skin condition that can impact your daily life. However, with a proper understanding of the causes, recognition of triggers, and implementation of appropriate treatment options, hand dermatitis can be managed effectively. It's important to work closely with a dermatologist to determine the most suitable treatment plan for your specific condition.

At Mid-County Dermatology in St. Louis, we strive to provide comprehensive information and resources to help you understand and manage hand dermatitis. We hope this article has provided you with valuable insights into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for hand dermatitis. If you are experiencing symptoms of hand dermatitis, we recommend consulting with one of our dermatologists for proper evaluation and personalized treatment recommendations.

Remember, managing hand dermatitis requires a holistic approach, including identifying and avoiding triggers, following a consistent skincare routine, and using appropriate medications or treatments as prescribed by our dermatology team.



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