This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Understanding hand eczema: features, diagnosis and treatment

Written by: | Published:

Hand eczema can affect both the backs and palms of the hand, causing painful itches and burns

The words ‘eczema’ and ‘dermatitis’ are used synonymously to describe a polymorphic pattern of cutaneous inflammation.1

Hand eczema is a common condition seen in primary care, occurring at any age with a 1-year median prevalence in the general population of 9.7% (11.4% among women and 5.4% among men)2 and is particularly prevalent in people with a history of atopic eczema.3 Occupational exposure includes, but is not confined to, cleaning, catering, metalwork, hairdressing, healthcare, housework, painting and mechanical work and frequent hand washing often leads to symptoms.3,4 There may not be one single cause for hand eczema. It is often multifactorial, with genetic (constitutional); injury (irritant contact dermatitis), immune reactions (allergic contact dermatitis) and unknown factors playing a part.3 These will provide the focus for this paper.

Clinical Features

Hand eczema can affect the dorsal (backs of the hands) or the palmar (palms) aspects of the hands. Both and can be very itchy, often burning, and can be painful. Clinically, the presentation will vary and be dependent on the cause with acute, relapsing and chronic phases.3,6

Please login or register to read the rest of the article and to have access to downloads and comments.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.

Read a free issue from Practice Nursing

Register to read a free issue from our sister publication, Practice Nursing.

Including articles on asthma, diabetes and more. Read your copy.


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.