BACKGROUND: Hand eczema is recognized as a long-lasting disease with personal and societal repercussions. Long-term studies are required to generate information on factors contributing to a poor outcome. OBJECTIVES: The aims of this 7-year follow-up study were to evaluate the clinical course of patients with hand eczema, the occupational consequences and to identify risk factors associated with a poor prognosis. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In all, 536 patients with hand eczema participated and were examined by a dermatologist. The clinical severity was assessed at baseline and 7 years later using a self-administrated photographic guide. Additional information was obtained from a questionnaire. RESULTS: Based on the photographic guide, 73% experienced a clinical improvement. Notably, 20% had moderate to very severe hand eczema at follow-up. Severe hand eczema or frequent eruptions at baseline and eczema in other body locations during the follow-up period were risk factors of a poor prognosis. The same factors, as well as being a woman, were associated with occupational consequences and low health-related quality of life. Of those with persistent hand eczema only 40% had visited a dermatologist during the follow-up period and 7% had oral treatment. CONCLUSIONS: The disease had improved 7 years later; nevertheless, many patients continued to have considerable symptoms. Patients with a greater risk of a poor outcome are characterized by frequent eruptions, severe hand eczema and more widespread eczema. It should be questioned if more aggressive therapy and closer medical follow-up would be beneficial.
British Journal of Dermatology, 2014, Vol 171, Issue 6, p. 1428-1433