Home Care for Hand Eczema Works Best

Regimen bears better results than hospital treatment

MONDAY, Dec. 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A home-based treatment using oral medications and a portable tanning unit seems to reduce the symptoms of hand eczema as effectively as treatments done in hospitals, says a Dutch study in the December issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

In patients with moderate to severe chronic hand eczema, the researchers compared the results of home-based oral psoralen-UV-A (PUVA) treatment to hospital-based hand bath PUVA.

Psoralen is a medicine that can be administered either as a pill, a gel, a cream, or as a hand-bath soak.

The 78 patients in the home group received 30 treatments three times a week for 10 weeks. Two hours after taking methoxsalen (a pill form of psoralen), the patients placed their hands in a portable tanning unit for UV-A treatment. They increased the time and intensity of the UV-A treatment as the study progressed.

The 80 patients in the hospital group received 20 treatments over 10 weeks. They had a 15-minute hand bath with the medication trioxsalen, followed by UV-A treatment.

By the end of the study, hand eczema symptoms improved by an average of 41 percent in the home group and 31 percent in the hospital group.

"In comparing hospital-administered PUVA with oral PUVA at home, both had a similar decrease in hand eczema score (clinical improvement) at the end of treatment. This effect was maintained during an eight-week follow-up period after completion of the treatment," the study authors wrote.

"In addition, patients treating themselves at home had substantially lower travel costs and substantially less time off work," the authors noted.

More information

The American Academy of Dermatology has more about eczema.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Dec. 20, 2004
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