Sharing my experience with Dyshidrotic Eczema, also known as Pompholyx, as well as, the side effects I’ve experienced, a look into my healing protocol, & the only product that has brought me relief.
My first update on my experience with Dyshidrotic Eczema went live late March 2021 (you can read it here) & has quickly become one of my top 10 performing posts ever. This unfortunately tells me three things. Many people are struggling with Dyshidrotic Eczema. Many people are looking for answers & relief. And based on the comments, many people are relieved to know they are not the only ones experiencing the intense frustration, pain, itching, & discomfort that tags along with this type of hand eczema.
It has now been one year & three months since my first outbreak, which looked like a very small red pimple on the inside of my ring finger. Since then, it has grown from a pretty small red bump to all over my ring finger, down my palm, across the front of my left hand, as well as, up & around each of my fingers, destroying my nail beds & even rotting some of my nails (shown below). That first outbreak was in October of 2020. And at the time of writing this, it’s January of 2022.
For anyone who hasn’t read my last eczema post, that post shares full details about my eczema journey throughout the first 6 months, complete with photos. Click HERE to read!
This post will continue to detail part 2 of journey with Dyshidrotic Eczema, the current stage of my eczema, a product that has brought me relief, & a look into my current healing protocol.
My Experience with Dyshidrotic Eczema
What is Dyshidrotic Eczema?
Dyshidrotic Eczema is a chronic skin condition that involves clusters of blisters, called vesicles, on the hands, feet, or both, that intensely itch & burn. This condition may also be referred to as foot-and-hand eczema, Dyshidrosis, Pompholyx, Vesicular Eczema, Palmoplantar Eczema, or Cheiropompholyx.
This post covers more about what Dyshidrotic Eczema is, who’s most likely to get it, what causes it, & more!
What Symptoms Have I Experienced?
1. Small Blisters
Over the past year, one of the most persistent symptoms I’ve experienced has been very small blisters on my left hand. Some have been so small that you have to look closely to see them & others have been much more visible. These blisters caused intense itching & burning, as well as, pain in the effected area. At times these blisters also made it quite difficult to use my hand, wash my hair, hold things, etc. Within the first 4 months of having these blisters, I also got an infection within the blisters because I was itching so much & just tearing open the skin essentially. The infection resulted in puss filled blisters on my ring finger & palm. Photos of this infection can be seen in this post.
2. Intense Dry Skin
As my eczema grew, not only was it painfully itchy & sore, but it left behind scaly, dry, peeling skin. The scaliness of my left hand & fingers is honestly incredible.
3. Nail Damage
An unexpected symptom that I didn’t experience until about 9 months into my eczema journey was nail damage. Specifically with hand eczema, once the blisters or skin inflammation gets close to the nail, it can really have an effect on the entire nail bed, which is what happened to me on almost every nail on my left hand. My nails don’t look anything like they used to. My cuticles are completely gone on my pointer finger. I now have pretty significant nail ridges. I have a lot of white discoloration. And the nail on my ring finger has lifted up so much from the skin, I’m surprise it hasn’t fallen off. So that’s been a real treat, as if the eczema wasn’t worse enough haha!
4. Overall Skin Change
The skin on my left hand has really changed a lot over the past year, especially now that my eczema has started to heal. You’ll see in the photos below how my eczema covered each part of my hand & as that skin healed, there’s a huge difference between my skin on my left & right hand. Especially on the inside of my hand, my skin now looks wrinkly kinda like I got out of a long bath. I’m sure it will eventually even out as the cells are replenished but for now, it definitely looks different.
5. Heightened Stress
As much as I’d like to say that my mental state is not influenced by my year long battle with eczema, that just isn’t my reality. It has been incredibly stressful. I think about my eczema constantly. And now that it has improved tremendously, I’m constantly worrying about if it will come back. When I do have an outbreak, even if it’s small, it can be overwhelming. Any time I experience outside stress or have an allergic flare, I also experience an eczema flare. As a part of my healing protocol, I have had my cortisol levels tested & am currently looking for outside support to better manage stress.
6. Localized Flares
One thing I have remained very grateful for is that my Dyshidrotic Ezcema has stayed on my left hand only. Any flare that I’ve had has been localized to my left hand, palm, & fingers. Dyshidrotic can affect both hands & feet. The thought of having it elsewhere honestly horrifies me, so I’m thankful mine has just stayed on my left hand.
Current Dyshidrotic Eczema Healing Protocol
Late May of 2021, I found a naturopath doctor on Google, who specializes in chronic skin conditions, among other things. She’s located in Milford, New Hampshire, which is about 35 minutes from where I live. I had to wait almost two months before I could book an appointment with her, but she was worth the wait.
Since mid-July, which is when my first appointment with her was, I have been on a supplement, dietary, & lifestyle protocol to help address the underlying issues linking to my hand eczema. The first thing we did after my first appointment was a food sensitivity blood test & a stool test to check for candida, parasites, etc. I was most excited about the food test because it’s been quite a while since I’ve done one. I know I have Celiac & definitely a dairy allergy, but other than that, I really couldn’t pin point what else was triggering me food wise.
Turns out, I’m highly sensitive to almonds, peanuts, sesame, & eggs – just to name a few. Those four where & are still my top areas of concern since they showed up as causing the most inflammation. Honestly this was very shocking. I’ve been gluten free for well over 7 years & almond ingredients are found in SO many gluten free & dairy free products. I’ve probably consumed almond products almost every day for the past few years. Even my favorite go-to snack, my GoMacro bars were loaded with almond butters, peanuts, & almonds. Thankfully they do have nut free flavors that I now am able to enjoy!
Sesame was another one I was shocked by. Peanuts not so much, I feel like I’ve always been borderline sensitive to peanuts. I even completely cut them out of my diet a little while ago for almost a year because they can be a source of inflammation. I did this food test mid-August, received my results at my follow up appointment with my doctor late August & since then I’ve made my dietary adjustments, eliminating those four foods from my diet completely. The hardest has hands down been the almond products, because I just didn’t even realize how much I was consuming. Definitely not something I would have pinpointed on my own without doing the blood test.
The stool test however was something I was more worried about, but to my surprise, all that came back was a candida pathogen, which was very manageable to treat with a candida supplement she put me on.
Another huge & disappointing part of my eczema healing protocol has involved not being able to wear ANY jewelry whatsoever. This includes my engagement ring, wedding band, earrings, & my gold necklace that I have worn every single day since 6th grade. To give you some context, I’m now 27, so we’ve seen many days together. Not wearing my jewelry has been hard, especially not being able to wear my rings. It’s been so long since I’ve worn them, even before I went on this protocol, I haven’t been able to wear them regardless due to my finger already being comprised & in pain that it just became to difficult & uncomfortable. It’s almost been a year since I’ve last worn my rings consistently. I cannot wait for the day I’m able to wear them again, I swear I’m going to feel like I’m newly engaged all over again haha!
Metal in general can be very triggering for Dyshidrotic eczema, so not only am I not able to wear jewelry on my protocol, but I also have to be mindful of any metal touching my body, even small things like the button on jeans! I’ve even had to be mindful of this when cooking food. I’m cautious about what pots & pans I use & if possible, I avoid using my stainless steel cooking items. My protocol even went as far as to suggest to avoid ALL contact with metal objects, but I quickly realized how difficult that would be & would end up causing me a lot more stress regarding the situation.
For example, this would include everything from silverware to door knobs. I’m open to a lot of things, but this was a bit much for me. And is the only area of my protocol that I have strayed from. Thankfully my eczema has improved tremendously due to other parts of my protocol. I will be sharing an entire post solely on my healing protocol soon. It’s too much to include within this post, so that will be coming.
What products have worked?
Again, I will be doing a separate post on products I have tried for my eczema, because there’s been quite a lot. But there has been ONE product that I can truly say gave me back my sanity. And I don’t say that sarcastically. This Thyme Out Spray was shared with me back in June from a dear friend & it completely saved my life & continues to save me whenever I have a flare. It is the only product that has even come close to helping. It’s a completely natural product, found on Amazon, & it’s designed to help relieve any itching skin condition like eczema, psoriasis, bug bites, poison ivy, etc.
For the first half of the year, I was barely sleeping due to how horrific my itching was at night. No words can describe. If you too struggle with Dyshidrotic, you understand. Most nights involved me leaning over the bathroom sink running my hand under cold water until I literally lost feeling & then I’d proceed to ice it. Just beyond awful. I remember literally jumping for joy the first night I slept through the night in June after first using the Thyme Out spray.
Although the spray isn’t meant to heal eczema, what it does provide is RELIEF. And for me, relief meant giving the skin on my hand a chance to heal because the severe daily itching really did a number on my hand. The skin was SO inflamed, it hurt so badly, it was so red, I almost always had broken skin.
If I was to recommend anything to someone with Dyshidrotic, it would be this spray. I’ve gone through multiple bottles since June & it continues to be $18 well spent. It comes with a little spray bottle too which is great for on the go, keeping next to your bedside table, etc. For months, that spray bottle went EVERYWHERE with me.
Over the past year, there hasn’t been a product that has even come close to providing me any sort of similar relief. I was super excited to try the Eczema Honey line of products because I had seen great things about it, but found them to be disappointing. Topical, lotion-like, goopy products have not worked well for me. It’s just not practical especially since my eczema is on my hand & around my fingers. If I have a goopy lotion on my hand, I’m literally not able to do anything because it just creates a mess.
I also have been adamant that I do not & did not want to rely on a topical product or treatment to help my eczema. And if I’m being honest, I don’t think topical products are able to really help unless you are also addressing the internal root cause & unfortunately, that will look different for everyone.
Month by Month Progression
Below are photos of my month to month progress with Dyshidrotic Eczema. If you’d like to see photos prior to this point, please check out this post which recaps my first 6 months with this chronic skin condition. As I’ve gone through different stages of my eczema, I have realized how quickly it can change in appearance – in a good OR bad way.
So as you can see, the state of my hand & my Dyshidrotic Eczema as of January 2022 has improved tremendously. I still am experiencing small flares every few days, but they are pretty localized to just my left pointer finger. If I get a bump somewhere else, it seems to fade away pretty quickly.
As I mentioned above, this experience has caused me a great deal of stress. This post alone has been on my to-do list now for actual months, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to sit down & actually write it until now. After spending thousands of dollars, losing many nights of sleep, crying many tears, experiencing a ton of stress & severe discomfort & pain, I’m grateful to say that I am now able to see an end point to all of this.
I’m beyond grateful to have found a doctor who has listened to me. I 100% attribute my progress to the protocol she put me on mid-Summer. Prior to that, I felt like I was swinging in the dark looking for answers. If you too have found yourself in a difficult situation regarding a chronic skin condition, I strongly encourage seeking outside help. Specifically from a naturopath who can help you address the root of whatever issue you’re experiencing. Finding the right doctor for you can be exhausting in itself, but don’t give up.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my first post on Dyshidrotic Eczema is that there are many people struggling with it. You’re not alone. I know within the first few months of having it, I truly believed I was the only person on the planet with this condition (a bit dramatic, I know lol) until I read about someone else’s experience with it online. Which ultimately lead to me sharing my own journey with Dyshidrotic Eczema.
As I mentioned above, I will have some additional posts coming regarding specific products & a deeper look into my healing protocol. This post is already so long & there’s definitely a lot to share regarding both topics. If there is any other topic you’d like me to cover on the topic of having or healing Dyshidrotic Eczema, please leave a comment below!
If you are currently struggling with eczema of any kind, I hope you’ll find comfort in knowing you’re not alone.
Sending lots of healing to all!