What is Hand Eczema (Dermatitis)

Eczema, also called dermatitis. 'Hand dermatitis' is a broad term for any type of eczema that develops on the hands. Hand dermatitis often has unique causes, commonly job-related and can require specific testing and treatments.

How Common is Hand Dermatitis?

  • An estimated 2% to 10% of the general population is affected by hand dermatitis.
  • 20% to 35% of all dermatitis affects the hands.
  • 9% to 35% of all occupational disease and up to 80% or more of all occupational contact dermatitis. Five occupations were responsible for more than 60% of these cases:
  • 1-Housekeeper, 2-Bricklayer, 3-Worker in metallurgic or mechanical industry, 4-Hairdresser, 5-Health care worker
  • higher than average risk include: janitors and housecleaners, florists, bakers, bartenders, caterers, cooks, and agricultural workers.

Risk Factors for Hand Dermatitis

  • Medical condition-a history of atopic disease (atopic dermatitis, asthma, or hay fever) increases the risk
  • Occupation -"Wet work" -hand washing, using chemicals and solvents can play a role.
  • Stress-cmay worsen all types of eczema
  • Environment-low humidity and cold weather strips skin of moisture which increases risk of developing some types of hand dermatitis. Alternately, sometimes heat and high humidity play a role. Perspiration under gloves can contribute to hand dermatitis

What Else Can Look Like Dermatitis


  • Well demarcated scaly plaques, with scales which may not be silvery.
  • Psoriasis affecting the hands is most prominent over pressure points
  • Usually relative lack of itching
  • Often psoriasis elsewhere on body
  • Nails may show features of psoriasis: pits, oil spots, subungual hyperkeratosis, splinter hemorrhages, onycholysis (lifting up of distal nail).
  • Lichen Planus must be also considered
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