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Pompholyx

(Dyshidrotic Eczema)

By

Mercedes E. Gonzalez

, MD,

  • Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology
  • University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
  • Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology
  • Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
  • Medical Director
  • Pediatric Dermatology of Miami
Last full review/revision Mar 2018| Content last modified Mar 2018

Pompholyx is a chronic dermatitis characterized by itchy blisters on the palms and sides of the fingers and sometimes on the soles of the feet.

(See also Overview of Dermatitis.)

Pompholyx is sometimes called dyshidrotic eczema, which means caused by abnormal sweating, but the disorder actually is not caused by sweating (although sweat can make it worse). Doctors do not know what causes pompholyx, but people often also have atopic dermatitis or contact dermatitis, and stress may be a factor as well as some ingested substances such as nickel, chromium, and cobalt. It is more common among adolescents and young adults.

The disorder starts with tiny blisters that become red, oozing, and then scaly. Pompholyx comes and goes in attacks every few months or years apart and is typically very itchy. Skin affected by pompholyx can become infected with bacteria. Pompholyx takes weeks to go away on its own.

Diagnosis

  • The appearance of the skin

Doctors diagnose pompholyx based on the appearance of the skin and its history of recurring periodically.

Treatment

  • Wet compresses
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antibiotics
  • Phototherapy

Wet compresses with potassium permanganate or aluminum acetate (Burow solution) may help the blisters go away faster.

Strong topical corticosteroids and/or either tacrolimus or pimecrolimus may help itching and inflammation.

Pompholyx can also be treated with antibiotics (for bacterial infection) taken by mouth and with phototherapy (exposure to ultraviolet light).

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
pimecrolimus ELIDEL
tacrolimus PROGRAF

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