Sunday, May 04, 2008

Dishidrotic eczema

It all began when I started working as a nurse in April of 2007-- the soap (I thought) irritated my skin so that at the end of my shift, I would drive home constantly scratching on my hands. I developed maculopapular rashes by May 2007 and sought an appointment with the Employee Health for an alternative soap (upon my Manager's suggestion). Okay, so I used a gentler soap, but continued to use the hand sanitizer (which seemed to be better despite making my skin red; it did not cause itching).

However, I did develop dryness, flaking, and eventually cracks on my skin. Once you have skin cracks, washing (especially with hot water) was agony. I almost was quite phobic of handwashing, and was using the sanitizer more. I also decided to use an OTC soap that was moisturizing, without the approval of the Employee Health. My symptoms were controlled, although I still got dried flaky hands on duty days. I also went to my family doctor and asked her to write a note that I can show at work that I was to avoid the hospital soaps to control my dishidrosis (aka pomphylox).

Then I was contacted by EH, and was asking if I was doing ok with the soap, to which I said yes. And that they would send a whole box, which I received that week. My manager told me to keep the used up bottles in the utility room so they could count. I started using it again. My condition worsened again, and I would get cracks during duty days, which would heal during days off. It was torture every time I washed my hands or used the sanitizer because of the cracks! Despite use of lotion, I could not help the progression of my condition.

Then our manager started implementing a handwashing program, targeting 50 handwashes per shift! I tried to stick to it as much as I could, which led to soreness and swelling of my fingers, it was just too painful to even bend them because of too much swelling, and forcing to bend led to cracks and bleeding. Too thin because of flaking, my skin would also bleed at the slightest touch of a side of a paper...That bad. The EH nurse arranged for me to see the Workplace Health doctor. Nothing new prescribed aside from what my family doctor did. Nothing new suggested; just keep trying new soaps until I found one that would not exacerbate my condition. I did, but I still had the problem. After a week, I called the EH nurse to arrange another visit, because I could no longer sleep straight with all the itching and pain and severe dryness, and this time, even 5 days off did not result to healing. I knew the soreness/pain was due to infection already. I felt like amputating my fingers...

A nurse practitioner saw me the next time, and I liked his approach. He listened well, suggested specific creams/soaps, treated the infection and gave me prednisone and topical steroid. As expected, it cleared up. I was quite happy, but he had reservations, because he knew (and I knew) that eczema can flare up again, and is a chronic condition. We would have to see whether once off prednisone, the use of mild soap and cream would help control the issue.

These are before and after shots (not all have corresponding photos, though.)

row 1, cell 1row 1, cell 2
row 2, cell 1row 2, cell 2
row 2, cell 1row 2, cell 2
row 2, cell 1row 2, cell 2
That crack was extremely painful!!!day 3 of commencing antibiotics
row 2, cell 1row 2, cell 2
I was happy to be finally free of pain, and during the final followup, I had no problems anymore...but then at the end of my shift, when the EH nurse called me to remind me to have follow ups with her, I told her it was starting again...but then I had some more prednisone tabs to finish, and one more week of topical steroid cream plus the barrier cream to apply...

I was hoping the problem would go away, especially that I would have one week off before I make the transfer to ER...

No comments: