In most cases, your doctor can diagnose dyshidrosis based on a physical exam. No lab test can specifically confirm a diagnosis of dyshidrosis, but your doctor may suggest tests to rule out other skin problems that have similar symptoms.
For example, a scraping of your skin can be tested for the type of fungus that causes athlete's foot. Skin allergies and sensitivities can be revealed by exposing patches of your skin to various substances.
Depending on the severity of your signs and symptoms, treatment options may include:
Corticosteroids. High-potency corticosteroid creams and ointments may help speed the disappearance of the blisters. Wrapping the treated area in plastic wrap can improve absorption. Moist compresses also may be applied after the application of a corticosteroid to enhance the absorption of the medication.
In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroid pills, such as prednisone. Long-term use of steroids can cause serious side effects.
- Phototherapy. If other treatments aren't effective, your doctor may recommend a special kind of light therapy that combines exposure to ultraviolet light with drugs that help make your skin more receptive to the effects of this type of light.
- Immune-suppressing ointments. Medications such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel) may be helpful for people who want to limit their exposure to steroids. A side effect of these drugs is an increased risk of skin infections.
- Botulinum toxin injections. Some doctors may consider recommending botulinum toxin injections to treat severe cases of dyshidrosis.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Home treatment might include:
- Applying compresses. Wet, cool compresses may help reduce itching.
- Taking anti-itch drugs. Over-the-counter antihistamine medications such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratadine (Claritin, Alavert, others) can help relieve itching.
- Applying witch hazel. Soaking the affected areas in witch hazel may speed healing.
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor. He or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (dermatologist). Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
Before your appointment, you may want to write a list that answers the following questions:
- Have you experienced this problem in the past?
- Do you have allergies to certain substances such as rubber, glues, fragrances or nickel?
- Have your stress levels worsened recently?
- What medications and supplements do you take regularly?
- Are you exposed to certain metals or chemicals in the work setting or through hobbies?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Are you exposed to chemicals or metals in the work setting or through a hobby?