QUICK RELIEF FROM HAND ECZEMA
Here are six good ideas to try and calm down symptoms of hand eczema:
1. Take an antihistamine. This stops the chemicals in your skin that are telling your brain that your hands itch. Benadryl is a time-tested and very effective choice. It does cause most people to become sleepy. If this is a problem, try ceftrizine (generic versions form places like Costco or brand name Zyrtec), or generic loratidine (brand name Claritin). You only need to take these once a day. Ceftrizine probably causes the least sleepiness. Benadryl works the fastest, if you need immediate relief.
WARNING: Do not put diphenhydramine on your skin. When it is applied to the skin it can actually cause worsening of skin problems. Benadryl sells a topical spray which includes Benadryl along with povidine and zinc acetate, among others.
2. For immediate relief, try and also get them chemicals off your hands right now. Wash them with the mildest possible soap, and as little of that as possible. Use Dove for sensitive skin, Neutrogena or Basis soap if you have it or can get it, with lukewarm water. Absolutely avoid anything that says anti-bacterial, like Dial. Anything that says it kills bacteria has chemicals in it that will aggravate your eczema.
3. After your hands are clean and dry, liberally use a good moisturizer. Avoid lanolin, parabens, fragrances, coloring agents and anything else you believe you may be allergic to. Moisturel and Cetaphil are usually good. Check ingredients because most products are reformulated every few years. The fewer ingredients in the moisturizer the better.
4. Put cortisone cream on the worst areas. You can buy 1% hydrocortisone cream over the counter. You can use this twice a day. Unfortunately, at this time, most 1% hydrocortisone has parabens in it, as well as other possibly problematic ingredients like aloe vera. One brand that seems to be parabens-free is Hyderm. You can to find paraben-free hydrocortisone. If you can’t, and over-the-counter medication does not help, you may need to see a doctor to get a different preparation. 2 ½% hydrocortisone cannot be obtained without a prescription, but can be found in paraben-free formulations.
5. Don’t scratch. Besides the antihistamine, if an area is driving you crazy, put a cold pack or some ice on it. Cooling it down may stop the itching. If you scratch, your eczema will get worse and it may get infected.
6. To prevent this from worsening later, stop getting all the soaps, chemicals, detergents, paints, and any other irritants you can think of off your hands. This also includes keeping your hands out of water almost all of the time. When you must wash dishes, or use chemicals, wear non-latex gloves, with liners of white cotton. Some gloves are sold with liners. Other times you have to buy them separately. Latex-free gloves are recommended because some people are allergic to latex. If you don’t react to latex, you can you latex gloves but with the cotton lining. The lining absorbs the sweat your hands make, thereby keeping them dryer.
There are other things that don’t work as quickly but are just as important. You may need to buy a vaporizer/humidifier if the air in your house is dry. Women may have to stop using nail polish or getting manicures at least temporarily to see if it makes a difference. When you put makeup on your face with your fingers, the chemicals can also aggravate hand eczema. It is very common to have a combination of hand eczema and allergic reactions to things you get on your hands. You may need to try and figure out any specifics that are making your eczema worse. This often involves some detective work.
If your eczema is bad, you need to see a doctor to get stronger and also some different medication. There are also some tests that can be done to evaluate eczema that is hard to treat and/or look for allergies or infections that can worsen the skin.