Hand rashes are particularly embarrassing to have, as they cannot be easily hidden. Eczema is a general term for various types of rashes that make the skin become swollen, itchy and irritated. Eczema of the hand can come from a variety of causes.
The New York Times regularly has a column where they present patients with medical conditions that have baffled doctors. This week’s column was about a 40-year-old woman who had suffered with hand eczema for 18 years. That is a very long time to have a hand rash that no one is able to come up with a medical treatment to control.
It started as tiny fluid-filled bumps that itched. A dermatologist diagnosed it as hand eczema and prescribed a strong steroid cream. The rash improved but did not go away. Many more steroid creams were prescribed with the same results.
A few years ago the rash became considerably worse after the woman moved into a new house. Brushing her teeth or driving her car would break open areas over the finger joints, which would bleed requiring her to wear Band-Aids, sometimes on every finger.
People she hardly knew would suggest she go see someone for that hand rash. Despite seeing over a dozen of the “top doctors” listed in her area, she did not receive a treatment that resolved the problem. All the doctors continued to tell her that her hand rash was eczema.
She tried numerous tacks, changing her soap often, removing gluten and dairy from her diet, going vegetarian and sampling a variety of different detergents for laundry and dish soap. Nothing seemed to help.
She decided to see a new doctor closer to home, Dr. David Grekin. He reviewed all the notes from the previous doctors who had seen her and observed that she had seen some pretty knowledgeable dermatologists. She also seemed very well-versed herself about her condition.
Dr. Grekin noticed that the hand rash did not extend beyond the middle joints of her fingers to her nails. He asked her if the rash always appeared like this and she said, yes. He then asked her if she wore gloves with the fingertips missing and she said, never.
Dr. Grekin figured out part of her problem right away.