Help for eczema? It’s painful and I can’t get rid of it.

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Hi Dr. I, Do you have any tips for getting rid of eczema? I have it on the backs of my hands(other places too but the hands are the most painful!). I use Vanicream cleansing bar and lotion. It is very painful and of course unsightly. I have tried my best 'detective work' on getting to the root of the problem (is it caused by allergies etc.) and haven't gotten to the bottom of it. I would be happy at this point just to know how to keep it from hurting. Thank you for your blog. It is very informative. Christy

Hi Christy –  I’m glad you wrote because I think many people have problems with this to some degree.   Often eczema, if it’s been present for awhile, can get colonized or infected with Staph Aureus (not a good bacteria).  If that’s the case, it won’t heal and can cause pain.  I would recommend seeing your doctor or dermatologist.  An actual culture before starting antibiotics is very helpful because some bacteria are resistent and the culture will show that.  The antibiotics can then be made more specific. 

Generally, on the hands it’s harder because many of us hand wash often.  Until you can get into see your doctor, here are some things to think about.   You want to avoid chemicals on your hands which includes ALL soaps that are in public or office soap dispensers.   Find a small sample size or container and refill that with liquid Cetaphil or Cerave cleanser.  You really do need to carry it with you and never, ever use commercial soaps again.  This includes anti-bacterial cleansers.  The thinking is starting to change on these  (thankfully) because they may breed resistence and the chemicals and alcohol cause hand eczema in some.  So…….. no wipes or antibacterial gels.

Also, I would recommend avoiding bar soaps – even the Vanicream one – try the Cerave or Cetaphil liquid cleansers in the pump bottles.  Then …….. next step – you need a hand cream (not a lotion) to apply 20 times a day (I’m not exagerating)..  More on sensitive skin.  

REMEMBER –  IF A PRODUCT STINGS OR BURNS ON YOUR SKIN  – don’t use it!!   Hope this helps,   Dr. B I