So, this is a bit of a community service announcement, just in case there’s someone else out there with similar symptoms and thinking they’re going mental like I have been for a while.
I have a condition called pompholyx. It’s a pain in the arse.
It’s a pain in the hands – at least in my case. And in my feet.
It’s form of eczema that causes little clusters of blisters to from under the skin. Sometimes the blisters are (supposed to be) incredibly itchy. In my case I will often feel a tiny, wee, acute itch and I know that within a couple of hours (if not sooner) a new little blister or cluster thereof will appear. The blisters themselves aren’t itchy.
In very bad cases, the blisters merge into very large ones and can be quite painful as well as itchy. This hasn’t happened to me yet, thank goodness!
Generally, pompholyx is your body’s way of saying; “Nopenopenope!” when it meets something it doesn’t like.
The causes of pompholyx can literally be anything, though most of the time it’s an allergic reaction. Environment is a cause. Stress has even been noted as a cause.
Again, in my case, I think it’s been long-term exposure to some chemical nasties. See, as this stuff started on my feet, I thought it was just tinea and treated it as such. I should have known two years later that tinea isn’t THAT hard to get rid of. What I was actually experiencing was a reaction to something. Because I’ve ignored it for that long (as I didn’t really see it as a problem on my feet), my skin has gone super-sensitive and as I’ve mentioned, it’s now jumped to my hands.
What’s helped so far? Well, to dry out the blisters a bit, I’ve been doing regular hand soaks in a white vinegar/water solution which I basically do on a 1:1 ratio, because I’m a hardcore bitch. This helps when my hands are feeling irritated or itchy for a prolonged period. I also use a cortisone cream (1%) on the worst of the blistery spots and that helps calm down the blisters as well. Unfortunately cortisone and I do not get on at all and even topical medication causes extreme skin sensitivity so it hurts to do things like carrying shopping bags or – far worse – type on the computer. Meh.
Unfortunately one of the side effects of this condition is that I end up with very thick and very dry skin. This actually worries more than the blisters themselves because I run the risk of my skin splitting due to lack of moisture.
I’ve used a range of creams derived from natural ingredients but so far, everything breaks me out in varying degrees. The only thing that has worked is to wash with cool water, do the vinegar and cortisone thing and then leave my hands the hell alone. Doing everything with gloves on has also been helping too, though it’s difficult in the shower.
I am showering with gloves on.
It’s as difficult as you think it is.
Now I am in the process of trying to find moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner and soap that will not cause my hands and feet to blister up so I can at least shower normally.
If you think you might have pompholyx, my first bit of advice would be to see your doctor and get a referral to a dermatologist for diagnosis. It’s NOT contagious and bits won’t fall off (see Leprosy) but it’s not an easily curable condition either and does need strategies to manage.
Probably the best resource I’ve found (online at least) has been this great website based in the UK.