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How to Treat Hand Eczema Naturally

Hand eczema can be very distressing as most of the tasks we do are dependent on our hands. To add the fact that hand eczema can be very painful and itchy, it can also lead to significant social stress as well since hands are not easily concealed and are often out and in front of others.
Let’s take a look at who hand eczema effects, what causes it, and tips for relief!

Who Does it Effect?

Hand eczema is often related to exposure at the workplace. Medical workers, food service workers, cleaners, hair dressers, construction workers and similar have higher rates of hand eczema . Also women are twice as likely as men to have hand eczema, probably due to greater rates of working in environments where hands are wet .

What Causes Hand Eczema?

Although atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common form of eczema, it is estimated that only about 30-50% of hand eczema cases are AD . Hand eczema is more commonly attributed to contact dermatitis, where the cause is an allergen or irritant that is coming in contact with the hands.
As similar as they may sound, there is a difference between irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis.
Irritant contact dermatitis results when the hands repeatedly come in contact with irritating substances such as soaps, detergents, solvents, oils, wood products, or other chemicals. This type of dermatitis is characterized by dry, scaly, red or cracked skin. The skin may be burning, painful or itchy.
Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) occurs when there is an actual allergy to a substance such as nickel, rubber, latex, plants, preservatives or fragrances. Fluid-filled blisters are common in ACD and itching is prominent. Although ACD commonly occurs on the hands, it may also appear on whatever other skin is exposed to the allergen. A doctor can diagnose specific allergens by a patch test.

Finding Relief for Hand Eczema

Start Treating at First Symptoms

It is important to begin finding solutions for hand eczema when it is first noticed and not wait until it becomes severe. The more dry and damaged hands become, the more susceptible they are to further damage or development of more sensitivities or contact allergies. The skin can become so damaged that it is very difficult to heal. If you have recently developed hand eczema, do all you can to identify the irritant or allergen and avoid it to let your hands heal.

Identify and Avoid Irritants

It’s vital to identify what irritant(s) may be the cause of your hand eczema. What are you exposed to on a regular basis at home or work? A symptom journal may be helpful to tracks when exacerbations happen and what could have been the cause. Even tracking how often you wash your hands or do wet work can be helpful as over washing can lead to drying out the hands and leaving them susceptible to irritants or allergens.
Changing out conventional personal care and cleaning products for natural ones can help to cut down on chemical exposure. Although, natural or not, beware of fragrance, which is a major irritant for many.
If your hand eczema symptoms indicate allergic contact dermatitis and irritant elimination has not helped, you may want to seek an allergen patch test from a medical provider to identify possible allergens.


An easy way to avoid coming in contact with irritants is to wear gloves. Some situations require gloves made of vinyl, latex, or nitrile which each protect the hands from various substances. Beware that gloves made of such materials, while protecting the hands from certain irritants, can contain irritants themselves. Find the right type of gloves that are non-irritating for you and wear them for protection, but for the shortest time possible. If your situation allows, another option is to wear a pair of cotton gloves under your work gloves. Cotton gloves are also great for protecting the hands from non-wet irritants, and could be used if working with lots of paper, money and receipts, merchandise, etc. Cotton-lined gloves are a good choice for chores such as dishwashing or other housework.


It probably goes without saying that those with hand eczema need to moisturize and then moisturize some more! Moisturizing is especially important after washing hands or doing other wet work, like washing dishes. It’s important to choose natural, fragrance-free products with few and identifiable ingredients in order to avoid irritants. Watch the ingredient list on any product. Even “natural” products can contain many additives and preservatives.
Ointments and balms are good moisturizer options as they are thick and are less likely to contain emulsifiers and other irritating additives than lotions or creams. Natural oils, like emu oil, are also a wonderful option as they contain a rich profile of skin-nourishing vitamins and fatty acids.
Be sure to keep moisturizers in easy to use spots, such as by each sink in your home, and pack a travel bottle when you are on the go.

Wet Wrapping

Have you heard of wet wrapping for eczema? This therapy is used to lock in moisture to the skin. Although you can wet wrap head to toe, it’s possible as well to use the therapy on a specific area like the hands. Here’s how:
You’ll need water, moisturizer and something to cover your hands, preferably cotton or bamboo gloves. A cotton sock could work as well, although will not cover each finger individually. Start by soaking your hands in warm (not hot) water for 15-20 minutes. Next, grab your gloves or socks and wet them in warm water and wring out. Pat your hands dry and generously apply your moisturizer of choice. Then cover your hands with the wet gloves or socks and then cover the wet layer with a dry layer (a larger pair of gloves, or again, socks). Leave the wet wrap on your hands for 2 hours up to overnight. When you remove the gloves, moisturize your hands again.

Clean up Your Diet

Remember that what you eat has a great impact on your health and levels of inflammation. Inflammation is involved in just about any disorder, eczema included. Cutting out inflammatory foods like gluten, sugar, dairy or other foods you are personally sensitive to can enable your body to heal from the inside out.