TMI, or Dyshidrotic Eczema and Me

Have you ever heard of dyshidrotic eczema? I hadn't until I was afflicted by it. Essentially, it's a skin condition that has no known cause but plenty of theories. It could be induced because of stress or sweat, or a bunch of other reasons, but no one knows for sure. What everyone knows is that it sucks. It is a horrible thing to have to deal with.

For me, it all started one evening when my hands where unusually itchy. When I woke up the next morning, I had small blisters all over my hands and feet. Dyshidrotic eczema shows up in the palms of hands and soles of feet. However, besides dyshidrotic eczema, I'm pretty sure that I was afflicted (and still am) by another kind of eczema. My elbows, arms, back and thighs were covered by a very itchy rash. This all made it very painful to move around. My hands and feet are getting better, but now a new rash appeared in my forearms. Don't worry, I'm seeing a dermatologist in a few weeks.

While this was going on, I was very down, depressed even. It just seemed that my hands were never going to get better. On top of that, it looks horrible and it makes you not want to see anyone. Fortunately, I was blessed with the best wife in the world, who not only encouraged me and assured me I was going to get better, but who also put lotion all over my body every night for a few weeks. For 10 days, she also wrapped my hands with Glass Press and Seal, so that the steroid ointment and lotion would be most effective. On top of that, she changed Ellie's diapers and did all the household cleaning. I helped here and there with a few things as my hands got better, but wipes, or dish soap are known irritants that only make the dyshidrosis worse. I'm very thankful to my awesome wife and I'm looking forward to being able to function and help again.

One particularly frustrating thing about this condition is that there are no pictures showing the progression of the condition. This was frustrating because I wanted to know if my hands were getting better, and if things got real bad before they got well. While things may look different for every person, I'm sure that there are certain similarities in the condition's progression. So, in an attempt to help others who are dealing and will deal with dyshidrotic eczema, I started taking pictures of my hands. If you are a squeamish person, then please don't read anymore. But for all those struggling with this crazy thing, just know that it does get better, even if it looks bad in the beginning.

Below you'll find a few pictures of my hands in different stages. My hands are not completely healed yet, but they are getting better and better.



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2 Responses to TMI, or Dyshidrotic Eczema and Me

  1. I've had the condition in the spring for nearly 30 years. Some years I forget that I have it, so it's an uncomfortable reminder when it shows up just as the catkins of the oak trees start dropping. But, those plants were just coincidental, I think, as I didn't always live near oaks. In fact, it was the last semester of college (age 29) out west when I first ever noticed it. This year, living in the midwest for 25 years, doesn't seem to be as bad as a few springs, when I was definitely under a lot of stress related to work, and family life. One year, the worst one, there were so much open blisters, I could smell the 'sponginess' of the underlying dermis. In fact, that year I contracted a virus illness related to my healthcare-provider work. The blisters were laid over blisters; the skin dried out like scales, and flaked, and the only thing that seemed to work was to keep it moist by slathering with an emollient and wearing a latex-free glove (or cotton socks) on top. Gradually, it healed and I forgot all about it until it showed up in spring with a few annoying blisters. This year it's bad and I seem to itch all over. Fortunately the blisters have been confined to my hands. It's sort of alarming, as a healthcare provider to have this skin condition on a very visible part of one's body. But, it could be a lot worse!

  2. I've experienced this condition myself but I only seem to get it in Barbados. I believe that for me it's caused by perspiration and a reaction to the grass near my holiday home.
    I've come to that conclusion because even when I am somewhere just as hot as Barbados I do not get the severe blistering of this condition altough I might get a heat rash.



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