Warts vs. Dyshidrotic Eczema: What’s the Difference? | MyEczemaTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up Log in
Resources
About MyEczemaTeam
Powered By

Warts vs. Dyshidrotic Eczema: What’s the Difference?

Medically reviewed by Raj Chovatiya, MD, PhD, MSCI
Written by Jessica Wolpert
Posted on September 20, 2023

You notice bumps on your hands or feet. They itch or hurt, and you want to know what they are right away and how you can treat them. Are they symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema, or are they warts?

While your health care provider can make a definitive diagnosis, there are some ways to tell dyshidrotic eczema and warts apart. The two skin conditions may look similar, but they have very different causes and treatments.

What Is Dyshidrotic Eczema?

Dyshidrotic eczema is a form of eczema that can affect your palms, the soles of your feet, and the sides of your fingers and toes. It’s most common in people aged 20 to 40, and according to Cleveland Clinic, people assigned female at birth are most likely to develop it.

With dyshidrotic eczema, you may have several or many blisters on your hands and/or feet. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ/DermNet)

A dyshidrotic eczema outbreak starts with small blisters that can look like little bubbles — which is why the condition is also called “pompholyx,” the Greek word for “bubbles.” These blisters itch, burn, and can be scaly and painful. As they heal, the skin underneath turns red or darkens and the skin splits. “My hands are still sore and splitting,” one MyEczemaTeam member described.

What Causes Dyshidrotic Eczema?

Dyshidrotic eczema is an autoimmune condition, and flares are often triggered by a specific cause. Researchers suspect that around half of dyshidrotic eczema cases result from exposure to an allergen, like laundry detergent or metals such as nickel, through contact or touch.

Other triggers can include:

  • Stress
  • Heat and humidity
  • Sweat on the palms or feet
  • Seasonal allergies

Determining what sets off your flare-ups can be helpful. As one MyEczemaTeam member said, “Get a list of triggers. I have decreased my exposure and my outbreaks are better.”

How Is Dyshidrotic Eczema Treated?

Treatment for dyshidrotic eczema often includes at-home skin care. Using warm or cool water to wash the area can help, as can cold compresses and cold soaks for the affected areas.

“I find running cold water and keeping your hands under it helps. It cools the skin,” said one member.

After washing or soaking your hands or feet, thoroughly dry them and if possible, keep them bare.

Wearing loose-fitting shoes like flip-flops or sandals can help reduce skin irritation on your feet. If you need to wear socks, choose natural, nonirritating fibers like cotton or Merino wool. Fragrance-free moisturizers can help treat dry and cracked skin.

Other treatment options include over-the-counter topical corticosteroid treatments and oral antihistamines, which help ease the itching and redness associated with dyshidrotic eczema. For severe cases, a dermatologist might suggest stronger steroids, immunosuppressants, or phototherapy (ultraviolet light).

What Are Warts?

Common warts are round, rough bumps that often develop where the skin is broken, such as near a bitten fingernail or a picked hangnail. Warts often develop on the hands and feet but, unlike dyshidrotic eczema blisters, can appear on other parts of the body.

Warts are caused by different strains of human papillomavirus. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ/DermNet)

Whereas dyshidrotic eczema appears on the palms, warts usually develop on the fingers, around the nails, and on the backs of the hands. In addition, warts on the hands — called common warts — look different from dyshidrotic eczema.

Warts that appear on the soles of the feet are also quite different from dyshidrotic eczema. Called plantar warts, they are often flat or grow inward, due to pressure from being walked on.

Plantar warts (foot warts) often grow inward and can cause pain. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ/DermNet)


What Causes Warts?

Warts often result from a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Because they’re caused by a virus, warts are contagious. In contrast, dyshidrotic eczema is an autoimmune disease and can’t be spread to other people. Anyone can get warts, although they’re more likely to affect children, teens, and people with weakened immune systems.

How Are Warts Treated?

There’s no cure for an HPV infection, but warts themselves often go away on their own. If they don’t, a dermatologist can freeze or burn them away or remove them chemically. Stubborn warts can be treated with lasers, medication injections, or immunotherapy.

Warts are usually benign (harmless), but if you have one that becomes painful, undergoes changes in color or appearance, or becomes a nuisance, or if you have warts that keep coming back, you should speak with your dermatologist or health care provider.

Although warts and dyshidrotic eczema are different conditions, there is a link between the two conditions. Because eczema can cause breaks and wounds in the skin, skin affected by eczema can be more vulnerable to HPV — and therefore, to wart development.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyEczemaTeam is the social network for people with eczema and their loved ones. On MyEczemaTeam, more than 49,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with eczema.

Have you experienced dyshidrotic eczema outbreaks or warts? How did you treat them? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

    Posted on September 20, 2023
    All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

    Become a Subscriber

    Get the latest articles about eczema sent to your inbox.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
    Raj Chovatiya, MD, PhD, MSCI is an assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. Learn more about him here.
    Jessica Wolpert earned a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia and an MA in Literature and Medicine from King's College. Learn more about her here.

    Related Articles

    Many people with eczema report a link between low iron levels and eczema outbreaks, but it’s not ...

    Does Iron Deficiency Trigger Eczema?

    Many people with eczema report a link between low iron levels and eczema outbreaks, but it’s not ...
    Imagine having painful blisters on your hands or fingers that just won’t go away. This is the cas...

    Herpetic Whitlow vs. Dyshidrotic Eczema: What’s the Difference?

    Imagine having painful blisters on your hands or fingers that just won’t go away. This is the cas...
    If you’re like many people living with eczema, you may spend a lot of time trying to figure out w...

    Do Wool Dryer Balls Trigger Eczema?

    If you’re like many people living with eczema, you may spend a lot of time trying to figure out w...
    If you wash your hands a lot or work in an environment where your hands are often wet or damp, yo...

    Working With Eczema: Dishwasher Hands

    If you wash your hands a lot or work in an environment where your hands are often wet or damp, yo...
    Do you have itchy hands and feet with tiny fluid-filled blisters? This may be a sign of a type of...

    3 Reasons Not To Pop Dyshidrotic Eczema Blisters

    Do you have itchy hands and feet with tiny fluid-filled blisters? This may be a sign of a type of...
    Eczema can affect many different parts of the face and body, including the mouth and lips. Eczema...

    Eczema Around the Mouth and Lips: Your Guide

    Eczema can affect many different parts of the face and body, including the mouth and lips. Eczema...

    Recent Articles

    I recently completed a bucket list European campaign consisting of a 10-day cruise from Rome to G...

    How I Battle Eczema in Public

    I recently completed a bucket list European campaign consisting of a 10-day cruise from Rome to G...
    Every eczema flare is unique, and no two people have the same experience. Eczema flare-ups can va...

    How Long Does an Eczema Flare-Up Last? Treatment, Prevention, and More

    Every eczema flare is unique, and no two people have the same experience. Eczema flare-ups can va...
    One thing I won’t be doing again: scratching my back (as we all do — admit it) on the ancient, ja...

    Distracted by Eczema: How Itching Affects My Focus

    One thing I won’t be doing again: scratching my back (as we all do — admit it) on the ancient, ja...
    Welcome to MyEczemaTeam — the place to connect with others living with eczema. This video will w...

    Getting Started on MyEczemaTeam (VIDEO)

    Welcome to MyEczemaTeam — the place to connect with others living with eczema. This video will w...
    For those of us living with eczema and planning a cruise — especially their first, like I just di...

    3 Tips for Traveling With Eczema

    For those of us living with eczema and planning a cruise — especially their first, like I just di...
    If you, like me, are living with eczema, you might assume that worsening symptoms mean you need t...

    How I Plan My Vacations When Traveling With Eczema

    If you, like me, are living with eczema, you might assume that worsening symptoms mean you need t...
    MyEczemaTeam My eczema Team

    Thank you for subscribing!

    Become a member to get even more:

    sign up for free

    close