Dyshidrotic eczema is a painful skin condition that often affects a person’s hands or feet. Treatments to help manage symptoms and relieve pain include cool compresses, emollients, and more.

Dyshidrotic eczema, or pompholyx, is a skin condition that causes people to develop small blisters. These usually form on the:

  • edges of the fingers or toes
  • palms of the hands
  • soles of the feet

Symptoms often come and go in periods called flare-ups. Some people with dyshidrotic eczema may never develop symptoms again, but it can also be a lifelong condition.

While there is no cure for dyshidrotic eczema, treatment can help relieve a person’s symptoms and prevent flare-ups. A healthcare professional can help identify which treatments may work best for each individual and recommend alternatives, if necessary.

This article explores different treatment options for dyshidrotic eczema.

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Experts recommend applying medicated wet dressings or cool packs to affected areas of the skin. A person should do this for 15 minutes, 2–4 times a day.

People may also need to apply a topical medication afterward, such as a prescription corticosteroid cream. Topical medications may help clear a person’s blisters and treat inflammation. However, some topical medications may have side effects. Individuals should speak with a healthcare professional before using them.

Learn more about how to make and use a cold compress.

Dyshidrotic eczema may cause a person’s skin to become extremely dry. Dermatologists, or other healthcare professionals, may recommend emollients or other moisturizers on the affected patches of skin.

Emollients help maintain the skin barrier and retain moisture within a person’s skin. They may improve skin dryness and decrease flare-ups.

Doctors may prescribe oral medications to people with dyshidrotic eczema, including antihistamines and anti-itch medications, such as pramoxine.

Healthcare professionals may also recommend individuals apply topical medications, which may help reduce inflammation and other immune responses that lead to eczema symptoms:

Side effects

All medications carry the risk of side effects. A person should speak with a healthcare professional to learn about potential side effects before using any medications.

For example, common side effects of steroids may include:

Side effects typically resolve after stopping topical steroids. However, in rare cases, people may experience topical steroid withdrawal.

Excess sweating near or on dyshidrotic eczema blisters may worsen a person’s symptoms. Excess sweating, in general, may trigger flare-ups.

Dermatologists may recommend a prescription-strength antiperspirant or injections of botulinum toxin, or Botox, into the patches of skin where a person experiences dyshidrotic eczema symptoms.

Botox side effects

Potential side effects for an adult using Botox for excessive sweating include:

Doctors may prescribe UV light treatment, which some people call light therapy or phototherapy, if they think a person needs stronger dyshidrotic eczema treatment.

Individuals may need stronger treatment if their symptoms are severe or if flare-ups often happen.

Doctors use a special UV light-emitting machine to give people light therapy. The machine exposes the affected parts of the skin to UV light for up to a few minutes at a time. The light reduces the inflammatory response in a person’s skin.

People often need 2–6 light treatments a week for at least 4 weeks. It may take up to 2–3 months before a person experiences improvement in their symptoms.

People should not attempt to use a tanning bed or natural sunlight for light treatment. They should only receive light therapy from a healthcare professional at a medical facility following a doctor’s recommendation.

Researchers have shown that light therapy is not a permanent dyshidrotic eczema cure. However, it may relieve inflammation and itching, which allows the skin to heal.

A person should speak with a healthcare professional about aftercare and potential side effects following UV light treatment.

Side effects

Common side effects of phototherapy may include:

  • sunburn-like symptoms
  • skin tenderness
  • premature skin aging

Less common side effects may include skin cancer, hair follicle infections, and cataracts.

Biologic drugs are more recent breakthroughs in eczema treatment. Manufacturers make biologics from living sources, such as human or other animal cells.

Doctors have found in recent case studies that one new biologic drug, dupilumab, is highly effective. Dupilumab may treat people’s dyshidrotic eczema where other treatments fail. One person who used dupilumab had a 90% improvement in their symptoms. The improvement persisted for at least 3 months.

Dupilimab side effects

Dupilumab also has potential side effects. Researchers suggest that side effects may include:

Dyshidrotic eczema causes small blisters on a person’s feet or hands. Some people may experience flare-ups of symptoms that come and go. Healthcare professionals may recommend a range of treatments to help alleviate dyshidrotic eczema symptoms.

A person should speak with a doctor about their symptoms and any potential side effects of dyshidrotic eczema treatments. People may find certain treatments work better for them than others.