Some people develop eczema on fingertips. The fingertips may become extremely dry and the skin may have painful cracks. Eczema of fingertips can pose challenges that other locations of eczema may not cause. The fingertips are one of the most used parts of the body. If the eczema of fingertips is painful, the condition can limit the person’s daily activity. Typing, writing, and other activities may be very difficult.
Eczema on the fingertips is sometimes called fingertip eczema. If the eczema affects more of the hand than just the fingertips, it may be called hand eczema. Eczema on the fingertips may affect all the fingers or only some of the fingers. Fingertip eczema may affect the area of fingerprints or along or below the fingernail. It may be a form of contact dermatitis in which the skin is reacting to an allergen.
In most cases of fingertip eczema, the cause remains unknown. Herpes whitlow is a condition in which sores, dry skin, or blisters may form on the fingers due to the herpes virus. Herpes whitlow is different from fingertip eczema though they may look similar. In most cases, herpes whitlow is the spread of a herpes infection to the fingertips from another part of the body. To prevent herpes whitlow, people should avoid touching any outbreaks of herpes or wash their hands after doing so. Fingertip eczema is not the same as a hangnail that is caused by a pulling of the skin along the nail.
Fingertip eczema is dry, cracked or brittle, flaky skin on the fingertips. People with eczema on fingertips may have some relief from using over-the-counter moisturizers. Thick, eczema creams are usually the best over-the-counter treatment. However, most people with fingertip eczema need a prescription eczema treatment for moderate to severe cases.
Frequent hand washing, especially with hot water, should be avoided by someone with any form of hand eczema. Some home treatment for eczema may help improve fingertip eczema. Applying shortening could help relieve the dry skin on the fingertips. Some people apply shortening or a thick moisturizer before going to bed and then cover the hands with socks. This may help soften the skin that has become dry and cracked.
If there is cracked skin that is bleeding on the fingertips, the person should seek medical attention for appropriate treatment. Eczema rashes that bleed could become infected. An infection can make eczema particularly serious. Therefore, cracked, bleeding skin is better treated by a doctor.