Pompholyx, also known as dyshidrotic eczema, can cause the skin of your hands and feet to itch like crazy. What can you do to calm it down?
Pompholyx is characterised by little fluid-filled blisters that usually occur on your fingers, palms, toes and soles of your feet. It makes you uncomfortable and when it’s really bad, can be debilitating, with skin ending up cracked and raw. So what can you do to calm the itch and soothe sore skin?
First step is always to identify and avoid your triggers. These, as with any type of eczema, vary from person to person, but generally fall within the following four categories:
- Something you’ve touched, i.e. metals, detergents, scented toiletries, perfumes etc.
- Heat: hot weather or sweat are both bad for pompholyx.
- Fungal infections such as thrush/athlete’s foot
As well as taking steps to reduce further irritation of your skin and avoid further attacks, there are various things you can try to calm down your skin during a flare.
Suggestions for calming pompholyx
1. Keep your skin moisturised: use unscented, intensive emollients (such as from the Balmonds range) to nourish and protect your skin. We recommend Skin Salvation balm for cracked or very dry skin.
2. Balmonds Cooling Cream is a lighter lotion if you’re finding an ointment too heavy and hot for your hands; it contains menthol, aloe and lavender to help with the itching.
3. Bathe hands or feet in a potassium permanganate bath. Get tablets from your pharmacist and give your skin a 15 minute bath once a day.
4. Glove up: apply balm and wear under thin cotton gloves at night for intensive hydration. You can also wear gloves if you’re going to be handling any household or industrial chemicals or detergents.
5. Try taking antihistamines if the itching is so bad you’re having trouble sleeping or concentrating.
6. Topical steroid creams are often prescribed for mild pompholyx, but bear in mind they have to be potent in order to work on the thicker skin of the palms and feet, and should not be used for more than two weeks at a time. If your pompholyx is persistent, you'll need to find a longer-term management strategy.
For more information about pompholyx/dyshidrotic eczema, see our article How To Cope With Pompholyx Eczema.
Recommended products for skin prone to pompholyx:
Choose products that won’t exacerbate the condition, ie moisturisers and washes that are scent-free and nourishing to the skin. From our range, we’d suggest washing your hands and feet with our Natural Shampoo & Body Wash, and moisturising your skin with Skin Salvation if it is very cracked and sore. If it is itchy but not broken, try our Cooling Cream to take the heat down a notch, or our tea tree-rich Scalp Oil to keep the area clean.
Balmonds Skin Salvation intensive balm with hemp & beeswax (from £7.99 for 30ml): good for very sore or broken skin.
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash with calendula & nettle (£19 for 200ml): an all-purpose SLS-free unscented wash.
Balmonds Cooling Cream with shea, menthol, aloe vera & lavender (£19 for 100ml): a light lotion designed to take the heat out of flushed or itchy skin.
Balmonds Scalp Oil with tea tree, hemp & borage (£14.99 for 50ml) as a topical rescue oil if the area is prone to fungal infections.
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If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.