Pompholyx eczema is a condition in which small blisters develop on the hands and feet. The blisters are often itchy. Pompholyx comes from the Greek word for bubble.
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a long-term (chronic) skin disorder that involves scaly and itchy rashes.
Cheiropompholyx; Pedopompholyx; Dyshidrosis; Dyshidrotic eczema; Acral vesicular dermatitis; Chronic hand dermatitis
The cause is unknown. The condition seems to appear during certain times of the year.
You are more likely to develop pompholyx eczema when:
Women seem to be more prone to developing the condition more than men are.
Small fluid-filled blisters called vesicles appear on the fingers, hands, and feet. They are most common along the edges of the fingers, toes, palms, and soles. These blisters can be very itchy. They also cause scaly patches of skin that flake or get red, cracked, and painful.
Scratching leads to skin changes and skin thickening. Large blisters may cause pain or can get infected.
Exams and Tests
Your doctor may be able to diagnose this condition by looking at your skin.
A skin biopsy may be needed to rule out other causes, such as a fungal infection or psoriasis.
If your doctor thinks the condition may be due to an allergic reaction, allergy testing (patch testing) may be done.
Pompholyx may go away on its own. Treatment is aimed at controlling the symptoms, such as itching and preventing blisters. Your doctor will likely recommend self-care measures.
SKIN CARE AT HOME
Keep the skin moist by lubricating or moisturizing the skin. Use ointments (such as petroleum jelly), creams, or lotions.
Medicines that help relieve itching can be bought without a prescription.
Your doctor may prescribe topical medicines. These are ointments or creams that are applied to the skin. Types include:
Follow instructions on how to apply these medicines. Do not apply more than you're supposed to use.
If symptoms are severe, you may need other treatments, such as:
Pompholyx eczema usually goes away without problems, but symptoms may come back. Severe scratching may lead to thick, irritated skin. This makes the problem harder to treat.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have:
Camacho ID, Burdick AE. Pompholyx Hand and foot eczema (endogenous, dyshidrotic eczema, pompholyx). In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 99.
James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM. Atopic dermatitis, eczema, and noninfectious immunodeficiency disorders. In: James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 5.
Review Date: 7/25/2017
Reviewed By: David L. Swanson, MD, Vice Chair of Medical Dermatology, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Mayo Medical School, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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