(RxWiki News) Yes, there are creams and medicines patients can take after their skin turns red and maybe starts oozing. Why not stop it before it starts? Eczema patients can nip the problem in the bud before it gets worse.
New research shows that following a prevention program for eczema helps keep the redness and irritation to a minimum, at least for healthcare workers.
Taking all the measures to protect the hands and keep them clean can improve quality of life, according to researchers.
"Use hand sanitizer when washing your hands."
The aim of the study, led by Kristina Ibler, PhD, from the Department of Dermatology at Roskilde Hospital in Denmark, was to see how well a skin care protection and prevention program helped healthcare workers with hand eczema.
More than 250 healthcare workers who reported eczema on their hands participated in the study. They had the skin condition at least one year and were recruited from three hospitals in Denmark. They were divided into groups based on the severity of their condition, as well as by the hospital where they worked and their profession.
Half were educated in a number of skin care measures, including how to protect their skin at work and at home and how to avoid related allergens. They also received one-on-one counseling.
Doctors observed how participants washed their hands and instructed them to use disinfectants even when the skin didn't look dirty. The group also received patch and prick tests to see how severe their condition was, while the second group just received typical eczema treatments.
Researchers asked patients how they felt about their eczema, how often patients had skin eruptions, what they knew about the condition, what measures they took to protect their skin and their quality of life.
They also measured the severity of the eczema five months after the treatments were finished. At that point, researchers found that eczema was less severe among patients who had the skin care education compared to the regular treatment group.
The first group also reported having a higher quality of life than the other group, and they protected their skin better by using protective gloves and washing hands more often.
"By using the intervention program in the present trial, cases of mild to moderate hand eczema changed in the direction of less severe or no eczema," researchers wrote in their report.
"Early intervention and treatment of hand eczema is known to significantly improve the prognosis and therefore the improvement in hand eczema obtained in the present trial is of clinical importance."
The participants may have shared information on the study between each other and amongst the hospitals, which the authors note may have skewed results. Researchers however did request to the patients to keep the study information private.
Several of the authors served as advisors, consultants and speakers for a number of companies and laboratories that may be a conflict of interest to the study.
Region Zealand’s Research Fund and the Danish Working Environment Research Fund supported the study, which was published online December 12, 2012 in BMJ.