Problems on the skin of the hands: Symptoms, causes and treatment
Alongside the feet, the hands are probably the most frequently used parts of the body. They play a fundamental role in daily life, both functionally and aesthetically.
However, this constant use means that the hands are prone to irritation and dermatitis, which can affect how we use them and our quality of life.
The most common skin conditions of the hands are caused by exposure to atmospheric extremes or irritants.
WATER-CONTACT AND CONTACT DERMATITIS
Water contact dermatitis occurs in areas that are in constant contact with water or humidity. Contact dermatitis caused by detergents and cleaners appears in a similar way to water dermatitis. It can particularly affect individuals working in the hygiene and cleaning industries.
IRRITANT CONTACT DERMATITIS ON THE HANDS
Irritant contact dermatitis of the hands is an acute inflammatory disorder characterized by symptoms such as erythema, edema, intense itching, exudation and the formation of crusts, fissures and erosions. It can develop anywhere on the hand and is one of the most common forms of dermatitis.
ATOPIC DERMATITIS (ECZEMA) ON THE HANDS
Atopic dermatitis often appears on people who have frequent contact with water and detergents, and causes inflammation and itching. Atopic dermatitis tends to recur over time, sometimes reappearing after a long period of absence.
DRY SKIN ON THE HANDS
The location of the hands and feet on the body mean that the skin here can be naturally, physiologically very dry. This is partly due to the fact that blood circulation and, therefore skin nourishment, is weaker at the extremities of the body, which are the areas furthest from the heart. Individuals with dry skin also often aggravate their condition by using water and detergents, further increasing skin inflammation and roughness.
HYPERHIDROSIS OF THE HANDS
Excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, occurs when sweat glands overact, often as a result of triggers such as high temperatures or from emotional stimuli, such as stress, fear or excitement.
DYSHIDROSIS OF THE HANDS
Dyshidrotic eczema, or dyshidrosis, can be either reactive or inflammatory, and usually appears on the palms. It causes itchy skin and the formation of small, fluid-filled blisters. Due to its location and name, dyshidrosis can sometimes be confused for a sweating condition. Sweating, however, is not a cause of dyshidrotic eczema.
CHAPPED HANDS FROM THE COLD
Chapped hands are very common during the winter season. In this period, the skin undergoes changes, mainly due to increased exposure to the cold. Cold weather exposure triggers vasoconstriction, where the skin vessels narrow to reduce blood circulation in order to maintain core heat. As a result, the skin of the hands can become dry and chapped.
CUTS AND FISSURES ON THE HANDS
Fissures are thin, elongated cuts that form on the fingers. Fissures are usually shallow and form on the stratum corneum, but can be deeper.
A healthy nail is smooth, transparent and adherent to the nail bed. Instead, signs of a damaged nail can include opaqueness, flakiness, thickness and, in some cases, detachment from the nail bed. Such symptoms create, among other difficulties, considerable aesthetic discomfort. Damaged nails can occur frequently as the hands are exposed to many different factors that can cause harm.
Whitlow is the inflammation, redness and swelling of the tissue surrounding the fingernail. In most cases, whitlow is triggered by an infection from a previous inflammation, such as trauma or contact with irritating substances. Whitlow particularly affects the thumb and forefinger.
Psoriasis is an unpredictable, complex skin disease that can occur in various parts of the body, including on the palms of the hands. Palmoplantar psoriasis can occur exclusively on the palm or alongside psoriasis on other areas of the body at any one time.
THE IMPACT OF SANITIZING GEL ON THE HANDS
With the COVID-19 epidemic came indications from the WHO and other health organizations to wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Where handwashing was impossible, people turned to antimicrobial hand gels with a high content of isopropyl or ethyl alcohol. As a result of this trend, however, many people now suffer from red, sensitive and dry hands.