The treatment and prevention of hand eczema

Page 18Hand eczema is an extremely itchy and chronic condition that can seriously impact one’s quality of life. Usually it starts with tiny little blisters under the skin that may come to the surface and ooze a watery liquid. This is often followed by much dryness which may involve painful cracks, making the most simplest tasks very difficult. After a short while, the blisters appear again and another eczema cycle begins.

Modern bio-medical treatments rely heavily on steroid creams to keep the eczema under control, but unfortunately these creams need caution as they are notorious for thinning out the skin, making it weaker and more prone to future problems. Thankfully there are safer and more natural methods to treat hand eczema, offering both short and long term relief.

Firstly, it is very important for those suffering with hand eczema to protect their hands, as trauma to the skin can be a trigger for flare ups. I encourage all my patients to wear gloves whenever they wash the dishes or their hair, and when touching different fruits, meats and vegetables, as this will protect their hands from irritating agents that may increase inflammation. The best method is to wear thin cotton liners underneath plastic gloves, and only wear them for short periods of time, say 20 minutes or so. Using a good moisturizing cream several times a day is also important, especially during the dry phases.

Secondly, herbal medicines – used externally as washes and ointments, and drunk internally as a tea – can offer tremendous benefits by being able to eliminate inflammation, stop itching, and actually heal damaged skin cells. Thus long term resolution can be expected, especially if patients continue to protect their hands after they stop drinking the herbal medicines.

Recently a female patient came to my office for the relief of hand eczema that she had been suffering with for the past few years. Upon inspection I noticed little blisters, for which she told me would weep liquid from time to time and that her hands would become very dry afterwards. She was a professional musician and the eczema made it hard for her to play the guitar properly. I encouraged her to protect her hands and, as well, prescribed different herbal medicines to drink everyday as a tea and to use as a soak when the itch was really bad.

Over the course of several  weeks her hands became less irritated and started to look normal. By the end of the third month, her hands were in good shape, having not had any recent flare ups at all. I weaned her off the medicines, while still encouraging her to protect her hands, and she remained stable – so much so that she was able to sing and play her guitar again without any troubles whatsoever.

Dr. Erikson uses Chinese herbal medicines to treat a variety of skin conditions. He can be reached by phone at 778.886.1180 or through his website at www.drerikson.com.