Atopic dermatitis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease, is often referred to as "eczema," which is a general term for the several types of inflammation of the skin. Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema and onset typically begins in childhood and can last through adulthood. The cause of atopic dermatitis is a combination of genetic, immune and environmental factors. In atopic dermatitis, the skin develops red, scaly and crusted bumps, which are extremely itchy. Scratching leads to swelling, cracking, "weeping" clear fluid, and finally, coarsening and thickening of the skin.
Dry, chapped, and itchy skin on the hands that doesn’t improve with moisturizer may be a sign of hand eczema. Symptoms can include red, itchy, inflamed skin with blistering that can lead to oozing, crusting, and cracking. People who have their hands in water all day or work closely with irritants such as detergents or solvents are more likely to develop this type of eczema. If you had atopic dermatitis as a child, you may also have a higher risk of developing hand eczema. Applying a cream after washing hands or wearing gloves may help protect hands from future flare-ups.