What Triggers Dyshidrotic Eczema?

Medically Reviewed on 9/9/2022
dyshidrotic eczema
There are many triggers for dyshidrotic eczema.

Dyshidrotic eczema is generally triggered by coming in contact with something you are allergic to or hypersensitive to. Avoiding these triggers helps keep your eczema under check. 

Here are some of the common triggers of dyshidrotic eczema:

  1. Jewelry or other items that contain certain metals such as nickel, cobalt, or chromium
  2. Certain chemicals present in cosmetics or personal care items (such as lotions, soaps, and shampoos) and detergents
  3. Tobacco smoke
  4. Certain foods that contain metal salts such as chocolates, coffee, canned foods, or mushrooms
  5. Certain medications such as oral contraceptive pills and aspirin
  6. Stress
  7. Intravenous immunoglobulins
  8. Athlete’s foot (a type of fungal infection)
  9. Warm and humid weather
  10. Ultraviolet light exposure

What is dyshidrotic eczema?

Dyshidrotic eczema, also called dyshidrosis, palmoplantar eczema, or pompholyx is a skin condition that causes small, itchy blisters on the hands or feet.

  • The blisters generally appear on the palms, soles, or edges of the fingers and toes. 
  • The blisters are filled with clear, watery fluid and cause intense itching.

While anyone can get dyshidrotic eczema, it is more commonly seen in adults who are between 20 and 40 years. The condition is more common in women than men. Although rare, dyshidrotic eczema can develop in children, as well.

What causes dyshidrotic eczema?

The exact cause of dyshidrotic eczema is unknown. It was once considered that sweat gland dysfunction may cause dyshidrotic eczema, but current research has refuted this hypothesis. A combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors may play a role in causing this condition.

Dyshidrotic eczema can affect anyone from 4 to 76 years.

You are more likely to get dyshidrotic eczema if you...

  1. Are between 20 and 40 years
  2. Are a female
  3. Smoke cigarettes
  4. Have other skin conditions or eczema such as atopic dermatitis
  5. Often have sweaty or wet hands
  6. Have certain allergies such as hay fever, asthma, allergic sinusitis, or an allergy to nickel, cobalt, or chromium salts
  7. Have a history of dyshidrotic eczema, atopic dermatitis, or allergic conditions in your blood relatives
  8. Are involved in certain occupations such as mechanics and metalworkers or work with cement or cutting oil
  9. Need to keep your hands wet or do frequent handwashing (such as health workers, cleaners, or hairstylists).


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Can you catch dyshidrotic eczema?

You cannot catch dyshidrotic eczema from someone who has it. The condition is not contagious. Although the blisters may be oozing watery fluid, they do not spread from one person to another. However, eczema can get infected if not cared for.

What are the signs and symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema?

Symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema may vary in severity and duration. Some people may develop an isolated episode, whereas others may develop chronic skin involvement.

These are some of the symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema:

  • Tiny, fluid-filled blisters on the palms, soles, or edges of fingers or toes
  • Intense itching
  • Burning sensation
  • Skin redness, warmth, or dryness
  • Oozing of watery fluid from the blisters
  • Sweaty or shiny skin around the blisters
  • Crusting or peeling over the skin
  • Thickening of the nails

Dyshidrotic eczema generally involves the palms and fingers. In rare cases, the soles of the feet may be involved.

The blisters may go away in a couple of weeks, leaving the skin dry or cracked. Usually, the blisters are tiny or pinhead size. They may, however, merge to cause larger blisters.

Intense itching and scratching can lead to infection. Infected blisters may be quite painful and associated with pus formation. They may make the skin appear swollen, red, and warm. There may be areas of cracked and crusted skin with pus oozing. Infected blisters may need antibiotic treatment and, hence, must be brought to a doctor’s attention.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/9/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Amini, Sadegh. "Dyshidrotic Eczema (Pompholyx)." Medscape.com. June 20, 2022. <https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1122527-overview>.

"Dyshidrotic Eczema." National Eczema Association. <https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/types-of-eczema/dyshidrotic-eczema/>.

"ECZEMA TYPES: DYSHIDROTIC ECZEMA CAUSES." American Academy of Dermatology Association. <https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/types/dyshidrotic-eczema/causes#>.