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Gloves for Eczema: 5 Things To Consider

Medically reviewed by Steven Devos, M.D., Ph.D.
Posted on August 31, 2023

If you have eczema on your hands, everyday tasks like washing, writing, and even shaking hands can become challenges. This is because your skin is uncomfortable and sensitive. Along with using prescribed eczema treatment, wearing eczema gloves can help relieve eczema on your hands. “Does anyone use gloves for their hand symptoms?” one MyEczemaTeam member asked.

In this article, we’ll explore five key things to consider before using gloves for hand eczema. Remember, it’s always important to consult with your dermatologist when you’re considering changing your skin care routine.

1. Wearing Eczema Gloves While Sleeping or Doing Chores

Many people wear their eczema gloves at night to sleep, which can serve two purposes. One is to prevent skin from becoming dry and brittle skin overnight, especially when gloves are used with a moisturizing lotion underneath. The other is to prevent further damage to other body parts from scratching your skin in your sleep. “Nighttime itch is so challenging! Gloves are a good choice,” one MyEczemaTeam member shared.

All sorts of chores can irritate your skin, including peeling potatoes, scrubbing surfaces, and folding laundry. Gloves can prevent irritation from water and cleaning products. Wearing them during the day can also keep you from scratching other affected parts of your body. “I rely on cotton gloves with latex gloves on top of them to do chores and everyday duties. They prevent my nails from breaking and help me not scratch my skin,” a member wrote.

Avoid wearing latex disposable gloves directly on your skin — instead, put them over cotton gloves. This can protect your skin while letting you use your hands for everyday activities. Make sure you take off your waterproof gloves every 15 minutes to let your hands breathe.

2. Picking Breathable, Natural Fabrics

According to the National Eczema Society, people with eczema should avoid wool, polyester, and nylon to prevent irritating sensitive skin. The most eczema-friendly fabrics are 100 percent cotton, bamboo, and silk. These three materials are great at absorbing sweat, allowing skin to breathe, and causing minimal friction on the skin.

When deciding what gloves work best for eczema, most MyEczemaTeam members consider 100 percent cotton gloves the gold standard, especially when searching for eczema gloves for children. “I have cotton gloves for my infant daughter, but they’re still a little bit too big for her, so we have started to use cotton socks,” one member shared.

Avoid materials that aren’t breathable: “Cotton and natural fibers do better. Poly fibers are worse because they trap moisture and heat, making them a bacterial habitat,” a member wrote.

Watch out for seams on your clothing, including gloves. If they have irritating or tight seams, they may do more harm than good. “I wear cotton or moisture-wicking clothing without seams,” one member shared.

Finding gloves that help relieve dryness and that don’t cause additional irritation might take some trial and error. Silk gloves may be a good choice to consider as they’re often loose and seamless and don’t have irritating elastics that can trigger a rash.

If you frequently use touch-screen devices such as phones or tablets, you should look for gloves that won’t cause interference. Constantly taking gloves off to use a device and then putting them back on defeats the purpose and may cause more skin irritation. Look for gloves with finger pads that are compatible with your mobile devices. Alternatively, cotton fingerless gloves can allow for accessibility while still keeping your hands, palms, and knuckles covered.

3. Applying Lotions and Creams Under Gloves

Underneath your gloves, it’s important to keep your hands well-hydrated and prevent friction between your skin and the fabric. Lotion and gloves can be used together to keep your skin moisturized for long periods of time, such as overnight. This strategy is particularly useful during intense eczema flares when you need intense moisture.

When one MyEczemaTeam member showed a picture of their child’s hand eczema, another member asked, “Have you tried putting on a pair of latex-free gloves on top of good lotion on his hands?”

Another member recommended putting Vaseline gel underneath cotton gloves. “Vaseline is great for sealing the skin, and it also prevents water evaporation from the skin’s surface,” they shared. “Using the aloe combined with the Vaseline is a brilliant and safe way to get relief. I use it at bedtime along with cotton gloves on my hands to trap in moisture.”

4. Avoiding Allergens

“I’ve been told that triggers can be a result of allergies, and that proper diagnosis is key to helping to control flare-ups,” one MyEczemaTeam member shared.

In fact, much of hand eczema is caused by an allergic reaction to a particular substance in the environment. Common triggers include:

  • Fragrances
  • Nickel
  • Preservatives
  • Rubber
  • Plants
  • Latex
  • Detergents

If you think you may have an allergy to an environmental trigger, make sure to speak to a dermatologist to get tested for allergies. If you know what substances you’re allergic to, make sure to avoid them in any products that touch your skin, including gloves and lotion. In general, look for hypoallergenic gloves that aren’t made from any potentially triggering products. Gloves should be fragrance-free and made of natural ingredients.

5. Looking for Ultraviolet Protection

Sunlight may make your eczema better or worse, depending on what kind of eczema you have. “Wherever the sun hits me, I’m itching!” one member wrote.

In general, protecting yourself from too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation is essential to avoid skin damage, sunburns, and eczema flares, especially if you are photosensitive.

Although you may have considered using eczema gloves only at home, using them outside may be beneficial in preventing sunburn and providing protection from UV radiation. Not all gloves protect against UV radiation — if the material is thin, translucent, or too breathable, sunlight may still be able to get in. When purchasing gloves, look for brands that specifically advertise UV protection.

Don’t forget that UV radiation can come through even on cloudy days. Wearing gloves outside can protect you against cold, wind, dryness, and sunlight. Gloves may be especially useful while driving when your hands are exposed to the sunlight through the windshield for long periods of time.

As with any eczema-management plan, what works well for you may not suit someone else. While eczema gloves might make some people’s symptoms better, others might not find the same relief. It’s helpful to try different methods and ask doctors for advice to discover the treatments that work best for you.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyEczemaTeam is the social network for people with eczema and their loved ones. On MyEczemaTeam, more than 48,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with eczema.

How do you manage hand eczema symptoms? What considerations do you take when choosing eczema gloves and other skin products? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Posted on August 31, 2023
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

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Steven Devos, M.D., Ph.D. received his medical degree and completed residency training in dermatology at the University of Ghent, Belgium. Learn more about him here
Scarlett Bergam, M.P.H. is a medical student at George Washington University and a former Fulbright research scholar in Durban, South Africa. Learn more about her here

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