Pompholyx, also called dyshidrotic eczema, is a skin condition that affects the hands and feet. This condition can be frustrating for sufferers. Here are four things you need to know about pompholyx.
What are the signs of pompholyx?
Pompholyx develops suddenly and presents as deep vesicles—blisters—on the palms of the hands, the backs of the fingers and sometimes the soles of the feet. Four-fifths of sufferers only have blisters on their hands, while 10% have blisters on only their feet or both their hands and feet.
The blisters are generally symmetrical, and your blisters may merge together to form even larger blisters. If you suffer from frequent attacks of pompholyx, the affected skin may become pitted or thick due to the scarring. Your skin can also become discolored.
Is pompholyx common?
Pompholyx is a fairly common type of eczema. It's reported to affect between 5% and 20% of Americans with hand eczema. It tends to be more common during the warmer spring and summer months and in warmer climates, so you may not suffer from pompholyx symptoms year round. This phenomenon is known as seasonal pompholyx.
What causes pompholyx?
This skin condition is strongly correlated with atophy, which is the medical term for a predisposition to allergic reactions. One study found that 78.5% of people with pompholyx were allergic to at least one substance, according to patch tests. The most common allergens associated with pompholyx are nickel, paraphenylenediamine (PPD, a hair dye) and fragrances, according to this study.
Can dermatologists treat pompholyx?
Avoiding potential allergens is an important part of the treatment for pompholyx. If you're not sure if you have any allergies, your dermatologist may recommend seeing an allergist for testing. Avoiding these allergens can help you prevent eruptions of pompholyx.
When you have blisters, you may be told to soak your hands or feet in a solution of potassium permanganate and water. Afterwards, apply an emollient to your affected skin to help it remain moist. Once the blisters subside, your dermatologist may prescribe a topical steroid for you to rub on your affected skin to help control any inflammation.
If your blisters are too severe to be controlled with soaks and creams, your dermatologist may prescribe aliretinoin, a retinoid drug that works by suppressing your immune system and controlling inflammation. You may have to take this drug for as long as 24 weeks if your blisters are very stubborn.
If you think you have pompholyx, see a dermatologist right away. Contact a business, such as the Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center PS, for more information.