The blisters on a piece of bubble wrap equal fun — especially if you like going for that satisfying pop. But eczema blisters? Not so much — especially when they itch or burn. Argh!
Dyshidrotic eczema (aka pompholyx) is often the culprit behind those fluid-filled bubbles. The eczema blisters tend to show up on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet.
Triggers, like irritation from sweat or an allergy to metal, can cause a flare of tiny (but fierce) bubbles that lead to peeling, cracked, and inflamed skin as they heal. Flare-ups are more common in hot weather, but they can occur at any time in response to a trigger (including stress!).
And when a flare occurs, you might feel eager to get some relief ASAP. Here’s what to know about treating eczema blisters and healing your inflamed hands and feet.
When it comes to treating eczema blisters, you can try some DIY methods at home for itch and irritation relief. But a dermatologist can also suggest medical solutions if DIY techniques just don’t cut it.
Adjusting the water temperature of your shower or bath is an easy way to get relief from eczema blisters. Hot water might feel cozy on cold hands and feet, but it can make skin conditions worse — not exactly what you need if you’re dealing with an eczema flare. So, if you’re experiencing dyshidrotic eczema blisters, wash with a lukewarm temp instead.
You might also need to swap out your soaps and bathing products, depending on what you use. Opt for a sensitive skin cleanser that’s free of irritating soaps, fragrances, and dyes, which can otherwise lead to eczema flares. Towels can be rough on blisters, too. So, gently pat your skin dry instead of rubbing away moisture after a shower.
If itching or burning is bothering you, apply a cold wet compress for 15 minutes after washing a few times a day to get relief. Afterward, slather on a moisturizer with ceramides or barrier repair cream with dimethicone, a moisturizing substance that creates a protective barrier while still allowing skin to breathe, per the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
Applying a topical steroid cream can also help fight itch, irritation, and inflammation from eczema blisters, and help your skin heal. They’re typically used just for a short period during a flare. You can grab a steroid cream over the counter, or a doctor may prescribe a stronger one.
Need something more? Get in touch with a dermatologist. A course of specialized UV light therapy sessions in the clinic a few times a week, over the course of several weeks or a few months, could help ease irritation and reduce how often you get eczema blisters.
Prescription medications may also help in some cases. If sweating is the irritant or trigger to blame for your flares, a prescription antiperspirant, or even targeted botulinum toxin (BOTOX) injections, could keep moisture from being such a B-word to your skin.
Some meds used to treat atopic dermatitis may help with eczema blisters, as well. Creams like pimecrolimus and tacrolimus can help control overactive inflammatory processes that may otherwise lead to those itchy eczema blisters.
In severe cases, topical or oral steroids, immunomodulators (taken by mouth or given as an injection), or other medications may be the right treatment for eczema blisters. Talk with a doctor to see if stronger medications are the right option for you.
Mini lifestyle changes can also help while you wait for other treatments to kick in. Rings can trap wetness, which is no good for eczema blisters, so if you have dyshidrotic eczema on your hands, you may wish to temporarily skip wearing all those cute rings you bought on Etsy — or just remove them when washing so that your fingers have a chance to dry thoroughly.
Consider investing in a pair of cotton gloves, too. No, you don’t have to go around looking like you’re prim and proper all day — although you can if that’s your jam. Just wear them to bed after slathering your hands with cream to lock moisture in. As a bonus, you’ll wake up with smooth cuticles.
When you’re working through your Saturday chore list, like scrubbing the shower, protect tender hands with latex-free gloves. Or, hey, just skip the chore and do it another time — eczema blisters are as good an excuse as any to push off annoying cleaning tasks.
And in cold or wet weather, bundle up with some cute mittens for added protection.
Nope. Those eczema blisters might practically be begging to be popped — but resist the urge to squeeze, poke, scratch, or do any other kind of damage to the bubbles. Opening a blister can increase the risk of contracting a skin infection.
If you’re prone to scratching, keep your fingernails short. That way, you might be less likely to scratch (or do quite as much damage when the itch becomes irresistible). Wearing gloves at night can also keep you from clawing in your sleep.
Sometimes larger eczema blisters will form, which can make it annoying or even impossible to do certain things (like type at a keyboard). If you have one that’s bothering you or interrupting daily activities, your dermatologist can safely drain it so that you can find relief. A derm might also give you a steroid injection to halt the itch, so you can focus on the more fun parts of life.
The fluid inside an eczema blister is called a serum. Your body pulls the fluid from neighboring tissue to cushion and protect the irritated and inflamed skin underneath the bubble.
That fluid can actually tell you a lot about what’s going on in the bubble. Normally, eczema blisters are filled with watery, transparent fluid. However, if the blister leaks pus that’s thick, cloudy, or stinky, you may have an infection. Ditto if the affected area is swollen or crusting, or you’re experiencing pain or a fever.
Those are all signs to talk with a doctor and potentially get some antibiotics to clear up the infection.
Doctors have yet to find a cure for this type of eczema. That doesn’t mean you’re doomed to having flares for months on end, though. Treating eczema blisters can often provide lots of relief — pretty fast, too!
In some cases, you may be able to treat eczema blisters quickly at home with methods like over-the-counter steroid creams, washing and moisturizing, and eliminating triggers.
Keep in mind that stress can be a trigger for eczema blisters, so if you’ve had a recent uptick in school, work, or life pressures, seek out ways to regain a sense of calm when you can — like meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques. If you know you have other triggers, like certain metals, see what you can do to reduce your exposure.
The occasional flare may resolve itself in a few weeks with DIY methods. But if you’re dealing with flare after flare, battling some brutal blisters, or feel like these symptoms are getting severe, talk with a doctor. There are other options in the form of targeted treatments or prescription meds that could offer more relief.
Blisters are characteristic of a dyshidrotic eczema flare. The tiny bubbles often appear on your hands or feet, and they usually itch or burn (or both).
If you have a flare, it’s best to avoid disturbing the eczema blisters. (That means no popping!) Instead, focus on ways to soothe and protect your skin, boost your skin barrier, and minimize exposure to triggers until the flare resolves.
Connect with a doctor to get things checked out right away if you’re dealing with a flare that’s particularly severe or if you have symptoms of a skin infection. They can also see if prescription meds or other treatments might provide even more relief from your eczema blisters.