About severe chronic hand eczema

Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis, or simply dermatitis) is a general term for skin that is habitually dry, itchy, red, cracked, oozing or scaly. In some instances, eczema can be located on the hands, in one of the most disabling forms of the condition in terms of its impact on a patient’s quality of life.

There are many forms of hand eczema, depending on its particular cause, for example, due to allergy, irritant, or existing atopic dermatitis. The extent, severity and duration of hand eczema can thus vary greatly between cases. Chronic hand eczema refers to eczema that lasts for three or more months, or that relapses two or more times per year. Severity can be defined by several instruments (for example, the Physician Global Assessment, or the Hand Eczema Severity Index) and include both physical symptoms and quality of life.

Hand eczema can be located anywhere on the hands and wrists. The proportion of patients with severe chronic hand eczema is estimated to range from 5–10% of all cases of hand eczema. Studies of hand eczema showed that patients’ quality of life can be greatly affected and is similar to that of individuals with asthma and psoriasis. The condition can be particularly burdensome and obstructive for patients with occupations that require fine use of the hands.


Diepgen TL et al. Guidelines for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of hand eczema. JDDG: Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft. 2015 Jan;13(1):e1-22.

Agner T et al. Comparison of four methods for assessment of severity of hand eczema. Contact Dermatitis. 2013: 69(2): 107–111