Pompholyx eczema

There are many different types of eczema, these all commonly affect sufferers with a rash and dry skin condition. One such type of eczema is pompholyx eczema.

Pompholyx eczema is very easy to spot as it is characterized by the appearance of extremely itchy areas on the palms of the hands and sides of the fingers, this also occasionally affects the soles of the feet. This condition normally causes blisters that contain a clear fluid, they normally calm themselves down and rarely pop, however in some cases they can burst causing more discomfort. This is known as the vesicular stage and it normally lasts for a could of weeks, after this phase sufferers notice a dry desquamating phase, itching in this period is normally reduced.

This condition has been recognised and understood in china since the time of the Ming dynasty, if not before. Chinese scholars noticed that it can occur on the back of the hands and wrists and when the blisters are popped they contain a watery substance.

It isn’t just called pompholyx so that it’s difficult to say, actually it comes from a Greek word meaning “Boss of a shield”. There is an alternative name for this, and this is dyshidrotic eczema.

Vesicles are small blisters and these are the characteristic lesion of pompholyx eczema, small vesicles are the most common however it has been known that they can join together causing larger vesicles or bullae. Normally the vesicles develop very quickly and cause severe itching. The skin on the palms and soles is thickened, and so the fluid appears to be white, but they rarely burst, they are normally absorbed back into the body.

Bullae is when several vesicles join together, this is more common on the feet and they can grow up to 3 cm in size in rare circumstances! If they get this big then they can cause a lot of pain which can result in incapacity.

If the vesicles or bullae burst and discharge crusting can occur. This is where a mix of yellow or white crusting which is also mixed with tiny scabs.

Erosion is the breakdown of the vesicle, the top layer of skin is worn away which leaves the lower layers of skin exposed, this is normally seen with crusting.

Once the area becomes infected pustules are very common.

Pompholyx eczema commonly affects the hands and feet, it can affect them either together or separately. 80% of patients suffering from this eczema have only their hands affected, while the remaining 20% suffer from feet alone, or hands and feet together.

Pompholyx eczema commonly affects people between the ages of 20 and 40, it sometimes affects teenagers and the elderly. For some reason it affects slightly more women than males. Around 20% of people that suffer from eczema suffer from this condition.

A flare up of this condition is commonly associated with hot weather, it commonly flares up in late spring or summer. Normally once the weather gets cooler the eczema gets better. Flare-ups can also be triggered by emotional upset, stress, or grief.

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