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Skin Problem Could Be Eczema

Published: April 17, 2009

Dear Dr. SerVaas,
My husband (age 62) has red spots on both feet. They are not bothersome unless they form blisters under the toes that later peel. The mystery is that he also had this problem last winter. When warm weather came they totally disappeared. He just had a complete blood work up and everything is normal. Any thoughts?


Post contributing editor and dermatology expert Dr. C. William Hanke replies:

“Your husband’s symptoms are most commonly associated with a type of eczema called dyshidrotic eczema that results from lack of moisture in the skin caused by seasonal changes to cold, dry temperature, frequent skin washing, and indoor heating which decreases skin moisture.

“Treatment includes minimal use of soap, applying over the-counter emollients (ointments are better than creams and lotions which are water-based) and, when severe, the use of prescription strength topical steroids. Early diagnosis and treatment is important to prevent the development of open foot sores that may progress to chronic wounds.

“Dyshidrotic eczema is also called pompholyx, a term that derives from cheiropompholyx meaning ‘hand and bubble’ in Greek. Patients typically present with itchy bumps that progress to water blisters on the sides of the hands and feet in a near symmetric distribution.”

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