Hand rashes are very common. Our hands touch so many things that can cause a rash. A hand rash can also occur because of something going on inside of your body. Some rashes will appear almost immediately and others will develop over time. While rashes on the hands are common, they are anything but pleasant. That is why it is important to make you know what is causing the rash, how to treat it, and when to seek out professional treatment when you don’t know.
Many people get a hand rash from substances they come into contact with at work. Offenders can include dyes, detergents, and even water. Repeatedly wetting and drying your hands throughout the day can dry out the skin. The skin can become so dry that it cracks and bleeds. Some hand rashes are actually an allergic reaction. These skin reactions usually develop after years of touching the same things day in and day out. This can explain why we so many hand rashes on people who tend to live stock in the Hattiesburg-Laurel, MS area. Allergic reactions can also occur if you are using new products on or near your hands. Cooks can develop an allergy to foods such as fish, garlic, or citrus fruits after having used them for years without issue. Additionally, people who frequently wear gloves can develop an allergy to latex gloves. There are even cases where jewelry can cause an allergic reaction. This allergic reaction often takes years to develop. A person who frequently wears a piece of jewelry can become allergic to a certain metal in that jewelry, even in wedding bands. When this happens it is called “wedding-ring dermatitis”, and it causes a rash under and around a person’s wedding band.
Dyshidrotic eczema can appear on the hand. People who have this type of eczema experience sudden recurring outbreaks of blisters. These blisters are deep, itchy, and often painful. These blisters form on the palms and the sides of the fingers. As the itch diminishes, rings of scaly skin will begin to form. When the affected skin peels, you will often see red, cracked skin with brown spots. It is not uncommon for these blisters to become disabling.
Thousands of things cause a hand rash; yet, most hand rashes look a lot alike. The skin on the hands tends to be:
- Chapped, dry, and scaly
- Rough, raw, and red
- Itchy or burning
- Sometimes filled with bumps or blisters
These signs and symptoms can appear on any part of your hands. Because so many things can cause a hand rash, you should seek out a provider at Pine Belt Dermatology for diagnosis and treatment. Dermatologists are the medical doctors who are the experts in treating skin disease and have the most experience diagnosing and treating the many rashes that can appear on the hands. Pine Belt Dermatology is the most trusted dermatology provider in the Hattiesburg and Laurel area, so be sure to schedule an appointment with myself or a colleague if you have a hand rash that is giving you trouble. Effective treatment for a hand rash begins with accurately identifying the cause.
As stated above, a Pine Belt Dermatology provider will create a treatment plan to help your skin heal. Many plans include medicine and tips to help you avoid/prevent what has been causing the rash on your hands to appear. A very important note that I feel obligated to mention is that during your treatment it is possible for your hands to look worse while they heal. Often times I will have patients call after seeking treatment stating that they used the medication given but that they feel their hand rash looks worse. Do not fret! This is normal, and a natural part of the healing process of the skin. Do not let this discourage you from continuing with your prescribed treatment plan. There are a number of treatments for hand rashes that you may get:
- Non-prescription creams and lotions – depending on the rash we may recommend a solution that you can get over the counter at your favorite neighborhood pharmacy. For some hand rashes you can use petroleum jelly, water-based, or oil-based hand cream. These solutions will keep the skin from becoming any dryer, resulting in further irritation.
- Prescription medicine – In some cases we may prescribe a prescription-strength cortisone-containing medicine that you can apply to the affected skin. In other cases you will get a prescription for an “immunomodulator”, which is a medicine that works with the immune system. This can be in the form of a cream or an ointment. Whomever you see here at the office will provide you with instructions on the proper use of the medication you are prescribed.
- Other medications that you may be prescribed that come in the form of a pill:
- Antihistamine – these can help treat severe itching.
- Corticosteroid – used to treat intense swelling and redness in the affected area.
- Antibiotic – used to treat sore, cracked skin and prevent a skin infection. This is often used in areas that have severe cracks or have had blisters that have opened.
As your skin heals it often starts to itch. Again, do not fret, and try not to itch it! Scratching your hands can worsen the rash and cause an infection.
You may wonder how to prevent future hand rashes from flaring. Hand rashes can return, however, taking some precautions can help prevent them from returning. Such precautionary practices include:
- Wearing gloves to protect your hands. Harsh chemicals and other substances that tend to irritate your skin can cause a new rash. Depending on the rash and daily life, we will recommend what type of gloves you should wear at work and while doing housework. Wear warm gloves outdoors in cold weather. Cold temperatures dry out your skin, especially on the hands. Replace gloves that have holes; when gloves get wet, be sure to dry them out between uses; and never put on wet gloves.
- Wash your hands without irritating them; soap and water can remove oils from your skin which can dry it out. To reduce this loss you should use: lukewarm water; a fragrance-free beauty bar or moisturizing liquid; antibacterial soap when necessary and apply hand cream immediately after every washing to keep moisture in the skin.
- Additional tips include: applying fragrance free hand cream or ointment to your hands after each hand wash or shower; apply cream or ointment to your hands right before getting into bed. The best products to use are ones that contain glycerin and/or petrolatum.
Treating a hand rash can be time consuming. It can also seem daunting and or pointless when the rash keeps coming back. Because the rash is on your hands, and your hands touch many things, these rashes can become very painful as they become more irritated. Some hand rashes can even become disabling. Rest assured, treatment is important, which is why you should schedule an appointment with a provider at Pine Belt Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center to get optimal results.