Hand allergies are considered contact dermatitis, also called eczema, that occur when there is contact with an aggressive agent with the hands. Symptoms include redness and itching that may appear immediately or up to 12 hours after contact with the substance that causes the allergy.
The most common aggressive agents are detergents and cleaning products but other situations that can also cause allergy are getting a henna tattoo; wearing jewelry, such as rings and bracelets, or dipping your hands in buckets of paint or solvent, for example.
Symptoms of hand allergies
The symptoms of a hand allergy are itching, redness, swelling and peeling of the skin of the palm of the hand and between the fingers. This allergy can be located in just part of the hand part, in only hand, or appear evenly in both hands at the same time. In less severe cases the hands may be just slightly dry and flaky, but in the most severe cases these symptoms are more intense.
Hand allergies can be confused with psoriasis, which manifests with hand scaling and dryness, but sometimes can also be confused with dyshidrosis, which causes spots and an intense itch and it is therefore important to see the doctor whenever the symptoms of hand allergies appear.
The most appropriate doctor to evaluate this change is a dermatologist who can arrive at the diagnosis of dermatitis or eczema by just observing the appearance of the hands.
Treatment for hand allergy
The treatment for a hand allergy, should be indicated by your doctor, but in general, it is recommended you:
- Always wear rubber gloves whenever you wash dishes, clothes or use other cleaning products, avoiding direct contact of the skin with this type of products;
- Avoid washing your hands very often, even if you just wash with water, but if it is extremely necessary, always apply a layer of moisturizing cream on your hands soon afterwards;
- In less severe cases, when there is no inflammation, always use moisturizing creams with urea and soothing oils that reduce local irritation on days when the skin is most irritated and sensitive;
- In severe cases, where there are signs of inflammation, it may be necessary to pass an ointment for hand allergy or an anti-inflammatory cream with corticosteroids, such as betamethasone, which should be prescribed by the dermatologist;
- When there are signs of infection in the hands, the doctor can prescribe medication like prednisone for 2 to 4 weeks;
- In cases of chronic allergy, which does not improve with treatment for 4 weeks, other remedies may be indicated such as azathioprine, methotrexate, cyclosporine or alitretinoin.
Some complications that can occur when the hand allergy is not properly treated are bacterial infection by staphylococci or streptococci, which can form pustules, crusts and pain. When there is dermatitis on the fingertips, the nails can be affected, becoming deformed, and in addition, the allergy can spread, affecting also the forearms and your feet.
What can cause hand allergies
Usually hand allergies are not caused by just one factor, but a combination of various ones such as genetic predisposition, contact with potentially irritating cleansers such as soap, detergent, chlorine, paint, solubles, frequent exposure to cold or heat, and frequent skin friction.
In this case, the products remove the natural protection of the skin, lead to dehydration of the skin and eliminate the lipid layer, and all this leaves the skin of the hands more dry and unprotected, facilitating the proliferation of microorganisms, and therefore there may be signs of aggravation.
The people most likely to develop contact dermatitis in the hands are those who work as painters, hairdressers, butchers, health care professionals because they have to wash their hands very often, cleaning employees and general services through frequent contact with cleaning products. However, anyone can have a picture of allergies in their hands throughout life.