Pompholyx - or dyshidrotic eczema - is a common but little-understood condition, but what causes it?
Pompholyx can be incredibly uncomfortable to live with, with hands and fingers horribly itchy and sore: anything you can do to avoid another flare-up is to be welcomed!
So how can you tell what triggered the attack? The truth is that it can be very hard to pinpoint exactly what initially sets off pompholyx, but there are some culprits worth checking out, which either be responsible or be making it worse. We’ll look at the five most common causes of pompholyx so you can check against the list in case any apply to you. It could be helpful to keep a trigger diary in the future, so you can match what’s been going on for you against any symptoms.
Pompholyx can be the result of reaction to something you’ve come into contact with; nickel is a common trigger, but other metals such as cobalt and chromate are also responsible.
Substances that might have touched your skin and caused pompholyx to develop include detergents like washing-up liquid or soap; toiletries such as scented shower gel, shampoo or conditioner, and perfumes.
Microbes can aggravate pompholyx-prone skin: this usually means a fungal infection, like thrush or athlete’s foot, but be aware that bacterial infections can develop (and will need to be treated) if your pompholyx gets very bad, cracks or is raw to the air.
If you or get overheated and sweaty, either from the weather or exercise, you can develop pompholyx. The condition tends to worsen in summer or in hot parts of the world, and is more prevalent in people who sweat a lot.
As with other forms of eczema, your mental state can make you vulnerable to developing pompholyx, and anxiety and stress could well be the triggers responsible for a flare-up.
Check whether any of those five potential triggers applies to you! 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.
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.