Hand eczema

Last Updated: 2023-09-28

Author(s): Anzengruber F., Navarini A.

ICD11: EA85.2Z

Dermatitis of the hands, dermatitis of the feet, palmoplantar dermatitis, palmar dermatitis, plantar dermatitis, hand eczema, foot eczema, eczema of the hands, eczema of the feet, chronic hand dermatitis, chronic foot dermatitis, chronic hand eczema, palmoplantar eczema, tylotic eczema, hyperkeratotic eczema, rhagadiform eczema, irritative-toxic eczema, cumulative-irritative eczema, cumulative-toxic eczema, palmar eczema, plantar eczema.

Inflammation of the acral skin, which can occur acutely (called dermatitis) or chronically (then called eczema). Very frequent clinical picture. Multiple aetiologies, further stratified in the various classifications.

  • Incidence: 5/1000/year
  • 1-year prevalence: approx. 10% of the population
  • 1-10% of the working population suffers from severe hand eczema

Division according to severity

  • Mild hand eczema: Heals quickly
  • Moderate: persists for weeks despite therapy
  • Severe hand eczema: Extensive permanent or recurrent skin changes of significant disease value

Classification according to duration

  • Acute: < 3 months
  • Chronic recurrent:
    • ≥ 3 months despite therapy and prevention or
    • 2 recurrences within 12 months

Division according to aetiology

  • Subtoxic-irritant hand eczema
  • Allergic hand eczema
  • Atopic hand eczema

Division according to morph

  • Hyperkeratotic-rhagadiform hand eczema
  • Hyperkeratotic hand eczema
  • Dyshidrotic hand eczema

Special form: fingertip eczema

  • Depending on subtype
  • Cumulative toxic(-irritative) hand eczema:
    • ↑ Exposure to moisture, working with toxic and sub-toxic substances (this includes water)
  • Contact allergic hand eczema:
    • Contact with type IV allergens that trigger contact allergy in the person. Mostly occupational context
  • Atopic hand eczema:
    • Atopia in self or family history

Depending on the subtype.

  • Anamnesis with regard to aetiologically significant factors (atopy, contact allergies, hyperhidrosis, psychological stressors, psoriasis, aggravating factors, hobbies, domestic stress, as well as previous therapy and prevention)
  • Mycology (according to guidelines, tinea manuum should be ruled out in all hand eczema)
  • Atopia screening
    • History
    • Family history
    • Clinical signs of atopy (Diepgen's atopy score can help if unclear)
    • Laboratory: total IgE, sx-1, fx-5, phadiatop
    • If necessary, prick test
  • Epicutaneous testing, do not forget photopatch if useful
  • Biopsy (performed far too little, but it is very useful diagnostically and can also exclude palmoplantar psoriasis molecularly)

Contact allergic genesis: Not infrequently manifested first on the backs of the hands or feet, since the skin is thinner here.

  • Superinfection, impetiginisation
  • Gram-negative forefoot infection
  • Poor entry (rhagades) for erysipelas

  • Wear gloves when cleaning (especially with harsh cleaning products) and when in contact with water
  • Change gloves several times if necessary
  • Otherwise, avoid wearing gloves (exposure to moisture)
  • Remoisturise several times a day
  • Avoid all type I & IV allergens!

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