Dyshidrotic Eczema and Fibromyalgia

dyshidrotic eczema

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever noticed that you sometimes develop small, red blisters on the bottom of your feet or on your hands? Often, these blisters will itch, and the skin surrounding them can grow tender and painful.

If those symptoms sound familiar, you might suffer from dyshidrotic eczema. And if you’re already suffering from fibromyalgia, you may be at a higher risk of developing the condition.

So what is dyshidrotic eczema exactly? How is it linked to fibromyalgia? And what can you do to treat it?

What Is Dyshidrotic Eczema?

As with all forms of eczema, no one is really sure what causes dyshidrotic eczema. But there seems to be an interaction between the skin and the immune system. Basically, the skin gets irritated by dehydration or external irritants like pollen or dust.

The immune system then overreacts to these irritants and triggers an inflammation response in the skin. When it comes to dyshidrotic eczema, this response creates the blisters that are closely identified with the disease. Usually, they develop on the soles of the feet, the toes, the palms of the hands, and the fingers.

It’s often possible to tell when the blisters are developing as the skin begins to grow tender and may sweat around the area that the blisters will eventually form.

Typically, they come in small groups. And the individual blisters themselves are usually small and might even be hard to notice. But the blisters can also eventually grow large enough to make walking difficult. In most cases, the blisters are intensely itchy and occasionally they can be quite painful.

It’s more common in women than men. And there seems to be a link between allergies and the condition. People who suffer from hay fever are more likely to develop dyshidrotic eczema.

And like many skin conditions, there’s a possibility that it could be linked to fibromyalgia.

How Is It Linked To Fibromyalgia?

We know that many people with fibromyalgia suffer from different skin conditions. There’s little evidence of a direct link between fibromyalgia and dyshidrotic eczema beyond the anecdotal.

And it doesn’t seem as though fibromyalgia itself causes skin conditions. Instead, the most likely explanation is that these conditions are linked to some of the complications of fibromyalgia. There seems to be a link between the stress of living with fibromyalgia and many different immune system disorders.

It’s possible that the resulting changes to the immune system make people more likely to develop skin conditions like eczema. But we’re not sure just what sort of role the immune system plays in conditions like eczema, or in fibromyalgia for that matter.

All we can say for certain is that there does seem to be a link between fibromyalgia and these sorts of conditions. There are a number of different theories about what it might be, but there’s no convincing evidence that supports any conclusively.

Until more research is done on the subject, it’s hard to say for sure what the connection is.

Of course, the fact remains that if you have developed eczema, you want to treat it. And there are a few ways to do that.

How Can You Treat It?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to cure dyshidrotic eczema. That means that managing the condition comes down to simply treating the symptoms as they appear and trying to prevent them from recurring in the future.

The blisters and skin irritation will usually come and go every few weeks or months. In some cases, the condition might spontaneously disappear after a few years.

In most cases, doctors usually prescribe topical corticosteroids to treat the outbreaks. These are creams that contain artificial hormones that help block the immune response that triggers the blisters. If those prove ineffective, you may also be prescribed corticosteroid shots or pills.

Other treatment options include UV light treatments or medications that can suppress the immune system. In some cases, doctors may suggest botulism shots to prevent your hands or feet from sweating.

Sweat seems to contribute to triggering the blisters, so keeping your hands and feet dry might help prevent outbreaks. In terms of over-the-counter options, there are a number of moisturizers that block water from escaping the skin. These can help you avoid blisters and have the added benefit of keeping the skin healthy.

Antihistamines can help with the itching and are available in pills and topical creams. It’s important not to scratch at the blisters, as this can damage the skin and make the condition worse.

As with any chronic condition, the most important thing to do is to take the necessary steps to manage the condition proactively and take charge of your health.

So what do you think? Have you suffered from eczema? What do you think the link is with fibromyalgia? How do you treat the condition? Let us know in the comments.