It might look a bit like an infection or a virus, but can you catch pompholyx like you can catch impetigo or chicken pox?
Pompholyx, also known as dyshidrotic eczema, is characterised by clusters of usually small, fluid-filled blisters under the skin of the hands and/or the feet, which can be intensively itchy. It tends to run its course in about two to four weeks, with the blisters drying out and the skin cracking towards the end of the flare.
In severe cases, the blisters can be large and cover a large area of skin. Cracks can be extremely painful and the itchiness so severe that walking, concentrating and sleeping can be difficult.
Because it’s often the case that fluid-filled blisters can mean that the skin is infected, either by a bacterial infection (like impetigo or eczema herpeticum) or a viral one (like the various forms of herpes, chicken pox or shingles), you'd be forgiven for thinking pompholyx was contagious too.
In fact, pompholyx seems to co-exist with fungal conditions, which don’t generally come up in blisters or spots. Whether the fungal infections cause the pompholyx or aggravate it is hard to tell, but it is always important to get any blistering conditions diagnosed properly and treated.
However, pompholyx itself, despite the visual similarities to bacterial or viral conditions and links to fungal ones, is not infectious. You can’t catch it from anyone else, and you can’t give it to anyone either.
However, it’s still very important to practice good hygiene when looking after pompholyx, even if it’s not itself contagious. If the itch is so maddening that you’re driven to scratch or pop the blisters, you can end up damaging the skin, and leaving it open to serious bacterial infection. To avoid that, wash your hands after touching the blisters and keep the area meticulously clean, dry and cool.
For more information a bout pompholyx/dishydrotic eczema, see our blog How To Cope With Pompholyx Eczema. We alsohave an informative article for you if you’re wondering Is It Ok To Pop Dyshidrotic 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) is a good topical rescue oil if skin is prone to fungal infections.
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.