Pompholyx, Dishydrosis - Definition
Pompholyx, or dyshidrosis, is a form of cutaneous eczema and is primarily characterised by blisters on the hands and feet. The term dyshidrosis means "bad sweating", this term was once used because dysfunctional sweating was believed to be the cause.
Described now as acute vesiculobullous eczema, pompholyx presents as small blisters on the hands and feet. These blisters are puritic or itchy and look like tiny blisters which then scale and cause deep fissures. The condition can be acute or chronic and recurrence is common.
Pompholyx is not contagious, and there is speculation on the causes, specific factors may be stress or allergens.
My Pompholyx History
I discovered my pompholyx aged about 45. I was working in a hospital in the X-ray department. In order to ensure I was protected enough to deal with the patients, I had to have some vaccinations, MMR and the Flu vaccine. I am not making any association between the vaccines and my pompholyx, but is was sometime after being vaccinated that my pompholyx began. I thought I had contact dermatitis, a reasonable assumption working in a hospital environment.
The blisters, at first, were itchy but small, appearing as small blistering circles on the insides of my fingers, then they would simply disappear. After a few days they would reappear.
Slowly the outbreaks became more frequent and deeper and larger. The circles of blisters started to spread out, enlarging into big circles, then they would peel. This peeling was deep and became painful. As the months went by my pompholyx was increasingly difficult to live with.
Even though the blisters were in the skin, when my pompholyx broke out over a joint on my fingers, it would cause the finger to change its physical appearance, the shape of the joint would change. I began to look as if I had arthritic joints.
Then finally it started to break out on the palms of my hands and soles of my feet. These blisters were very uncomfortable. The itching would drive me crazy. At this time I hadn't made the connection that my hands and feet were suffering the same condition as the appearance of the episodes on my feet was different, it looked like little red blisters and was located right in the middle of the soles. I was so upset about my hands that I decided to go to my doctor. The diagnosis was pompholyx and I was prescribed steroid cream.
My Systemic Problem
Around the time I discovered my pompholyx, I was beginning to have other health issues.
When I researched my problem I discovered many people had pompholyx, and I discovered many people also had some other symptoms similar to ones I was having as well. My symptoms were very like low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism. I began to investigate the low thyroid function possibility to some detail.
The problem here was, that my blood results were normal.There is a great deal of controversy about hypothyroidism, and I have to confess I went down this route for quite some time, and spent a considerable amount of money trialling the different treatments and visiting various expensive thyroid doctors. Unfortunately, this approach using hypothyroid treatments, namely glandulars T2, T4, T3 and even adrenal support, just did not work for me.
One clear test which the thyroid groups often discussed was low body temperature. I had a very low temperature and I had had a low temperature for as long as I can remember, since being a child I could never raise it above 38.5C or 96.5F. I could not raise it with any glandular substances, thyroid supplements or adrenal etc. If my low temperature was indeed a problem, and conventional thyroid treatments didn't raise it, maybe, I began to think, I was still looking in the wrong place.
Around this time I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so now things were really broken and the race was on to find a way to fix my failing body by working on my compromised immune system.
How I Fixed My Pompholyx
Having discovered and decided that I had a low body temperature, and having also decided, in my own opinion, this was not right, I became convinced this was the reason why my immune system was compromised and my health was failing. Maybe this lowered temperature had compromised my immune system in some way? I needed to see if it was possible fix it and I needed to find a way to do it, if indeed it could be done.
Maybe fixing my low temperature might help optimise my immune system? Perhaps someone in the big wide world had done this? Perhaps someone had identified that living with a temperature of 35.8C was not enabling optimal immune system function and had raised their own temperature to the so called 'normal' of 37C?
I spent a few days searching using different keywords. Then, fortuitously, I found some very old writings by an engineer who was discussing the body temperature set points as if they were part of a central metabolic control system. His writing was difficult for me to truly understand, but I thought he had a very clear idea of how human temperatures worked, and, more importantly, he said he had managed to fix his own health threatening illnesses by fixing his own compromised immune system.
I felt like Alice stepping into Wonderland. This was a truly revolutionary approach to health issues. All I needed to do was find the author. This turned out to be easier than I imagined. There aren't many Steve Richfield's. Further, he had published his contact email address. It was a long shot, but I emailed him and asked for support. He replied immediately. Game on.
Within two days I was putting myself through Steve's own resetting process which he describes as self help with support. Firstly he had me do a couple of tests to see if I had central hypothermia. This involved doing a shower test, where I had to make some observations of how I felt as my temperature was being raised whilst in a hot shower.The results of the test helped Steve work with me to decide which method for my reset would be best. It took two weeks to reset my temperature with about two to three more years of maintenance.
As soon as I had started to function at my new temperature set point of 37C or 98.6F I noticed some immediate health improvements. One was my pompholyx. It began to gradually disappear, the itching subsided and the blister occurrences reduced. My feet cleared up completely, but I would still have the odd out break on my hands.
As part of my breast cancer protocol I had been introduced to an iodine protocol. When I started taking iodine the remaining pompholyx lesions cleared up and it has now stopped erupting completely.
Body Temperature and The Immune Systems
This is my hypothesis. I now believe that maintaining optimally operating immune systems is underpinned and dependent on the central metabolic control system in the brain selecting the correct operating temperature.
I think that if temperatures are either stuck high or low, the immune systems cannot operate optimally. If the immune systems are compromised then they start to allow things to break. I think this is why, over the years I was accumulating small subset illnesses, and as my compromised immune system could not deal with these diseases, more things began to break, my illnesses accumulated increasingly. It was only when it culminated in something big that I took some real notice and decided to find a cure.
I am aware fixing my low body temperature and optimising my immune system will not be a 'cure all', but it enables my body to have a go by itself a little more efficiently, which in the case of pompholyx seems to have been enough to fix it.
My Pompholyx Cure Four Years Later
Having fixed my low body temperature and optimising my immune system in 2010, I now operate cycling at 37C, I am still free from episodes of pompholyx. I have almost forgotten what it was like to suffer from it and I feel very lucky to have found my cure, it is a miserable disfiguring condition.
I hope my experience might encourage anyone suffering from this condition to continue to search for a cure. It can be done.
I am not a doctor, I am not in anyway qualified to give any medical recommendations. I would always suggest seeking professional medical advice. This is simply my own story based on my own experience.
© 2013 Janey Hood
SM on January 27, 2016:
I am at my wits end. I have to find a way to get better. My hands are messed up all of the time now. They check my thryoid every year almost. And nothing. I am always cold unless it is in the 90's maybe. I havent been warm on a regular basis until i was on one medication earlier this week. Now that i am finished with it i am freezeing again. Wierd as it may seem, it seems like antibotics have been the only thing even remotlt helping. But i can not stay on them for ever. I would love to see if this would help. And if i could warm up in the mean time as well.
Jessica on April 20, 2015:
Wow, I too, am an X-ray tech and suffer from what I believe is either dihydrosis and or pompholyx. I have many symptoms of hypothyroidism. The lab tests have been in the normal range, but just barely. As far as I know my body temp is normal. If I wanted to look for a local practitioner to help, where should I begin? My primary care doc and dermatologists diagnosed atopic dermatitis and have only prescribed steroids (topical and oral for severe bouts), & results were no better than using OTC allergy medications and Vaseline. This has been going on for YEARS. Until I stubled across your page, I was seriously considering making an appointment with an autoimmune specialist, but I really don't want to resort to toxic chemo drugs. Thanks for sharing your story, any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Janey Hood (author) from UK on November 20, 2014:
You are very welcome.
Janey Hood (author) from UK on May 29, 2014:
Thank you Angie
In order to work out what may be compromising the immune system it is important to differentiate between low body temperature which simply needs warming up, and central hypothermia which needs resetting. One is easy, the other is very difficult. I am not sure whether there was any X-ray connection, which also may have been compromising my immune system, what I do know is when I changed my job the pompholyx remained.
There is a website which you can read called fixlowbodytemp which helps understanding about how to make the distinction and also has contacts for the Central Metabolic Control System therapist who helped me.
The process can be done unsupported, but I found it much better to have full support.
Best wishes to you I hope you find your cure, I have now pretty much forgotten just how disfiguring and painful my fingers were becoming, your note has just reminded me.
What a relief it is not to have to deal with it anymore.
Angie on May 29, 2014:
I just recenly found out that I suffer from this as well, and I also have the disfigured looking fingers. I am on a strong topical steroid, and find it odd that I do xray as well. Thank you for your article. I can now work on my problem!
Janey Hood (author) from UK on April 13, 2014:
You are welcome.
I hope you are encouraged to find a cure for your own idiopathic and chronic ailments. My understanding is both can be as a result of a compromised immune system. One route would be to explore central metabolic control system therapy to see if it might work for you.
Best wishes to you
zameena on April 10, 2014:
hi janey, thank you so much for the text, it really help me, i have grave's disease and also Dishydrosis too.
Janey Hood (author) from UK on April 04, 2014:
Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
I correspond with people from all over the world on this subject and am more than happy to share more information about resetting.
Resetting is a self -help supported process. It is VERY difficult because it involves training the brain to stop working the way it has been, which has been leading to a poor outcome, and to force it to do something different, the challenges of doing this must not be underestimated.
There are a couple of methods that are used either a one day reset or a two week reset and the way forward is usually decided by looking at an individuals history and endocrine system status.
Consideration must also be given to a minimum of a years maintenance. This involves prioritising your set point obsessively, access to heat (usually showers, hot cars etc) amassing a huge amount of very warm clothing (I wore five layers at a time for far more than a year) and learning to guesstimate your temperature.
I currently assist people with simple histories to reset, but if I spot any complex issues, for example genuine thyroid issues, then I would always defer to Steve Richfield.
Melissa, please feel free to contact me with as much historical information as possible, things like, ancestral history of famine? Inadvertent hypothermia as a result of any child hood anaesthesia? Current temperatures, daytime and sleeping, and anything else you might feel important. Use a pseudonym if you like, I always maintain confidentiality.
melissa s on April 01, 2014:
Can you send me your email or go into more detail about resetting your body temp? Your story sounds exactly like mine with the dyshidrosis, low thyroid function, low temperature/metabolism, and iodine deficiency.