My Poor Hands

Hand eczema on finger

I haven’t always had hand eczema. For the first 35 years of my life I washed my hands with whatever was on offer without a second thought. And when you are practicing vet and have small children, you do a lot of hand washing.

Sometime after DD3, my hands started to feel a bit dry. The skin grew thicker and the first painful cracks appeared. I put my first fissure down to a paper cut but before long I realised that something else was going on. Off to the GP I trotted.

He barely glanced at my hands, let alone asked me any of the lifestyle type questions the websites tell you can help with a diagnosis.

‘You’ve got hand eczema’ he told me. ‘Stop washing your hands so much’.

I’m pretty sure he had me down as suffering from OCD but basically I was just a mum who changed a lot of nappies!

I was given a prescription for E45 and some steroid cream to use only when my hands were really bad and was told to wear gloves as much as possible. I hated the gloopy E45 and the gloves  even more.

My low point was waking up one day and finding my ring finger on my left hand swollen like a sausage. I had got eczema under my wedding and engagement rings and it had got infected. The rings had to be cut off but I had been terrified I was going to lose my finger. I haven’t dared get my rings repaired so for 5 years I’ve been wandering around bare fingered. I call myself by my maiden name quite a lot anyhow so my poor husband grumbles away and wonders why he even bothered with a wedding.

I’ve tried various lotions and potions to help with my hands. Most things help for a little while, then stop working after a bit. The best cream I have found is Simple Derma cream which unhelpfully isn’t sold in any of the chemists on our high street. In fact I’ve never found it in a pharmacy and buy it online. At the moment I have run out, but it looks like some will be delivered tomorrow. If I apply it 3-4 times a day, then by next week my hands will be looking and feeling a lot better.

I use steroid cream sparingly but don’t like to use it when I have open fissures on my hands. I’ve also found my hands are much better when I use sodium lauryl sulphate free products. Sodium lauryl sulphate, or SLS, is used to make foam in many everyday beauty and cleaning products. Products like bubble bath, dishwashing liquid, shampoo and liquid soap. I’ve had some success replacing all the these products in our house with SLS free ones. The range I use is mainly ‘Surge’ from Waitrose. I even get the kids to use SLS stuff, so I can wash their hair without developing problems.

Mostly, I have my hand eczema under control these days, but occasionally I have a flare up.  I’m having one now, as you can see from these photos. I’ve managed to trace this back to running out of my usual Liz Earle face cleanser and using Oil of Olay foaming wash instead. Stupid because what makes it foam but SLS? My face isn’t affected thankfully, just my hands.

When my hand eczema is bad it’s really painful and I have trouble doing basic things like opening jars and packets, and turning pages on books. I’m quite often embarrassed by the state of my hands and on a couple of occasions have ripped a bit of skin off while doing something and bled everywhere, which obviously isn’t great.  I’m not a vain person but I do feel my hands look  ugly when they are like this.

But the thing that upsets me the most is that my children won’t hold my hands when they are rough and sore. But who can blame them when they look like this?

Hand eczema fissures





27 comments on “My Poor Hands

  1. Commiserations – my hands are the same when I wash my hands too frequently (usually when I’m doing a lot of cooking) and I remember when I took ds2 for his 6 week check up the GP exclaimed in alarm at the raw state of my hands! I remember that it started when I was a teenager washing up in a restaurant for pocket money, the rubber gloves were so rancid I usually went without.

    Now the nappy days are over my flare ups are usually in the winter and usually effect my thumbs and knuckles. A couple of days of hydrocortisone and intensive moisturising at night usually brings it back into check. My husband has grown used to me wearing cotton gloves in bed at night!

    I do envy people with lovely hands, mine are all gnarly and usually red!

  2. You poor thing. I have a condition called pompholyx, which does similar things to my hands (and feet. Nice). I get itchy blisters and thickened skin that cracks. I’ve yet to find a cream that truly works – might try to order some of the stuff you mentioned. You don’t realise how often you knock your hands around until they’re really sore :S

    • I agree that you don’t realise how sore hands can be until they are a problem 🙁
      First thing in the morning is worst because everything tries to heal up over night, then I break everything wide open when I wake up.

  3. Oh, Jacq 🙁 that happened to me when I was younger too, for the same reason as the other Jo. I found the steroid cream helpful, but the other thing I did and still do sometimes was put olive oil on them before I went to bed. It was the only thing that worked for me.

  4. Poor you! Mine often get that bad during the winter. It comes on quickly too, doesn’t it? One day mine just seem their usual dry, rough, old-looking but in-on-piece hands, and the next, the knuckles and the bits between my fingers are split and covered in blood. It’s horrid. It feels so unattractive and nothing I’ve found really helps. I hope it settles down again for you. xx

    • Yes, it’s the fine one day then falling to pieces the next day nature of the condition that really annoys me. I’m honestly not pleased lots of other people suffer, but it’s nice others understand.

  5. Can definitely sympathise- I too have the same problem. Steroid cream and moisturisers here too, but took ages to find the right one – E45 actually made mine worse. I find the Body Shop hemp range helps if I don’t have my giant pot of lard to hand!
    Also, have you considered diet at all? I discovered half by accident that certain foods (tomatoes, oranges, anything acidic) make mine worse too,and cutting them out has helped.
    Frustrating though, isn’t it!

  6. Ooooh, they look sore. Cesca gets this on her
    knuckles and the base of her fingers. The only thing that works for her is the Eve Lom Creme Universalle. It is thick and greasy but absorbs pretty well, no scent and brilliant for an overnight clearing up session. It is genius… but they have recently stopped production! Just snapped up 3 tubes for £40 on ebay and hoping they last a couple of years. Might be worth looking for?

  7. My staff in the Philippines, if I eat too much “dried fish” which we call tuyo, I would have “galis” or eczema. I did not listen, so I do have them now after 2 months of gourging on that Philippine ham as a I miss them. So, it was obvious, it was the sole reason for my eczema, so I avoid anything fish or fried right now and using Hydrocortizome to ease the pain and the eczema now are getting better.

  8. Oh my goodness! You have posted a picture of my hands! I’ve never seen anyone else with this. The cuts are so painful and the fingers swell. People don’t realise how painful it is to do basic tasks. I’m sure they think I’m being a wuss. So sorry to hear you had your wedding ring cut off, mine has never got that bad.
    I’ve had eczema on my hands since I was 8. It’s always been bad, but, yes, has been worse since I had the kids. I wash my hands too much too, but it can’t be helped. If you’re dealing with kids and food preparation, somehow you end up washing your hands a lot. Mine get better in spring and summer (although they sometimes go backwards in April when I stop wearing gloves outside) and are better on days when I’m at work because I just don’t wash my hands as much! I use steroid cream all winter and wash with Dermol lotion most of the time (although I use antibacterial soap if I handle meat or eggs or anyone is ill).

  9. I feel for you. I suffer with eczema also. I have had it for the majority of my life. I guess everyone is different in how it affects each individual and so forth. I have tried so many products over the years also such as the steroid creams. Then I started using Sorbolene moisturiser (soap alternative), raw organic unprocessed honey, avocado oil, Jurlique rose hand cream and Moo Goo Eczema and Psoriasis Balm. Not sure if you have tried any of these products but this is just what I found to work for myself… Not sure if they will work for you though?
    Well, anyway, hope your hands are better 🙂

  10. Ive recently been told ive got pompholyx. At present ive about 3-4 cuts on my fingers. Its been a real nightmare sooo painful. Ive been given a tablet to take. Got to take it for the next 4 months. And my dermatologist said it should cure it. So fingers crossed

  11. Have you tried eliminating wheat from your diet for a while? I’ve found that to be the cause of my hand eczema.

    Good luck

  12. hello hun 🙂 i just wanted to say that you shoud talk to an inmunologist .
    He saw me for a case of recurrent implantation failure of pregnancy .
    i was sent there by my new ginecologist who saw my hands and reckon that I had my inmune system really bad .
    my hands were like yours in the photos and possible even more cut .. .. really bad and painful and totally understand your case i get this on my right hand .

    inmunologist sent me a test called *Great plains * to test FOOD Allergy , and food intolerance and Candida albicanis .
    I tested positive for some foods allergies adn some intolerances .

    even the test show *low* positive result .. my doctor reckons it was high and took me out of GLUTEN, wheat and yeast (beer yeast and bread yeast ) thiis like forever ..i shouldnt consume .
    and he said no more other foods during 6 months on food that that is lowe inolerance then the ones i mention before …. like *Yogurt ,honey, Lemon , red meat (stake and lamb ) onlon

    I also tested positive for candida albicanis for which doctor start giving me some drugs and some homeopatic treatment too .

    i now notice that if i eat somethng of the foods tht i said .. then i het the cuts in my hands ..

    im still on treatment but .. if i was you i would consider on do that test. very important 🙂

    doctor reckons that gluten and other foods are causing big damage in my intestine which is causing allergic reaction on my hands ..

    send you kisss and hope you get an feel better hun 🙂

  13. Try Chaparral both tropically and internally. It has a strong smell but you will get use to it when you see it really does help clear up the problem. It wont last if you keep eating sugar…of any kind. Eliminate sugar as this is a yeasty condition. Add lots of garlic to your diet. This should clear it up.

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