London: Dominic Rawlins, a 65-year-old businessman, initially disregarded the tiny blisters that had sprouted all over his hands.
This rash marked the beginning of a long and painful experience with chronic hand eczema. His hands became so sore over three years that he was unable to complete the most basic of tasks.
Then, just over 12 months ago, his dermatologist Mabs Chowdhury, consultant at the University Hospital of Wales, prescribed a new drug, alitretinoin - brand name Toctino, reports the Daily Mail.
"I noticed a massive difference within just a fortnight. The blistering stopped and my skin started healing," says Rawlins.
"After four weeks the condition was completely cleared and I stopped the tablets. I was over the moon - for the first time in six years I am back to normal and can do all the things I want to do.
"I think the drug is absolutely marvellous. You are left with a lot of dry skin, so I use emollients, but my hands and feet are virtually perfect," says Rawlins.
"My hands...looked horrible.... I wore white cotton gloves in restaurants and pulled back if anyone went to shake hands," he admits.
"It blocks the inflammatory response in the skin and is the first product licensed for chronic hand eczema," says Chowdhury.
Chowdhury prescribed the drug for Rawlins after a number of people he treated for a similar condition had shown "remarkable results" within four to eight weeks.
Now dermatologists and support charities are trying to spread the message to millions affected by hand eczema.