What is Dyshidrosis (Pompholyx)?
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What is Dyshidrosis (Pompholyx)?

An overview of dyshidrosis, also known as dyshidrotic eczema or pompholyx, a painful skin condition.

Dyshidrosis, also called dyshidrotic eczema or pompholyx, is a non-contagious skin condition which affects the hands and/or feet. This painful ailment begins with blisters which then break and weep. After the weeping dries, the area cracks and peels. One cycle of dyshidrosis generally lasts three weeks. Some sufferers return to normal after one cycle, while others begin again once skin has recovered from the last cycle.

An Overview of Dyshidrosis SymptomsDyshidrosis begins with an inflamed area on the fingers, toes or soles. Inflammation causes fissures to form between cells, trapping fluid. This fluid then causes extremely itchy blisters or vesicles to form on the surface of the skin. Sufferers are cautioned not to scratch as this will accelerate and exacerbate the condition. Once the blisters rupture, the fluid oozes from the skin, leaving the area dry, cracked and painful to the touch.

Causes of DyshidrosisThere is no known cause for dyshidrosis. Outbreaks seem to be linked to stress, allergic reactions through either skin contact or ingestion, or contact with a drying substance such as alcohol or harsh detergent. There has also been a suggestion of a genetic link to this painful condition.

Diagnosis of DyshidrosisDyshidrosis is diagnosed by sight, however, a skin scraping may be preformed to rule out a fungal infection. No other tests for dyshidrosis exist, unless your physician believes the condition is linked to an allergic reaction. In this case, standard allergy testing may be implemented.

Treatment of DyshidrosisSeveral treatments are prescribed for dyshidrosis. Antihistamines, moisturizers, and strong topical steroids are most ofter prescribed. Other treatments include oral steroids, steroid injections, Burrow's solution soaks, Epsom salt soaks, and ultraviolet light therapy.

Complications Associated with DyshidrosisThe most harmful complication stemming from dyshidrosis is a secondary bacterial infection that enters through cracks in dry skin. Another risk of this skin condition is a hardening of the skin. Excessive scratching leads to extreme dryness rendering the skin thick and hoofy, which hinders the use of fingers.

Prognosis of DyshidrosisThere is no cure for dyshidrosis, however most sufferers return to normal after only a few cycles. Dyshidrosis can recur at a later date.

If you suspect you have this condition, see your health care provider for confirmation and treatment. As with any health condition, early treatment can save you undue suffering, and possibly a “self-mis-diagnosis.”


Mayo Clinic. “Dyshidrosis” (accessed January 2, 2011)

Right Health. “Dyshidrotic Eczema Guide” (accessed January 2, 2011)

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Comments (7)

Very interesting

I grew up with this, as did my father. It was recommended that we refrain from wearing latex on our hands or feet or colored socks. I was told that it comes from the sweat ducts not producing properly on the hands and feet. They had tried several treatments on my hands and feet when the outbreaks occurred and they would last for about a month. Walking was painful. My mother wrote my homework out for me as I could not hold a pencil. The doctor did suggest stress might exacerbate the disorder, but fortunately they have become very infrequent. I use a prescription dose of hydro-cortisone for some relief. I lance the blisters with a sterilized needle as the pressure within can become very uncomfortable. Once the liquid is released they dry up and clear on their own.

You have explained this skin disorder well. Thank you.

I have no votes left so I shared

Great information.

Voted up, never heard of this, thanks for the info!

A very good article on what sounds like a really painful condition. Excellent work, Sheila :D