I have this problem, too, and it is ALWAYS triggered by stress for me. When I first moved out on my own, I got them so bad that my hands swelled up, I couldn’t bend my fingers, they were weeping all the time (and so was I, actually), and I couldn’t sleep for more than about an hour at a time. This went on for about 2 weeks. Horrible.
Doctors were no help. The only thing they could come up with was “contact dermatitis” which seems like what all of you are getting diagnosed with as well.
After doing quite a bit of research on my own, I found out that this is called dyshidrotic eczema. The link is intended for dermatologists to read, I think, but contains some very interesting information. If it’s too much, you can google for dyshidrotic eczema or dermatitis, and the term pompholyx, which, according to the link is “[F]rom cheiropompholyx, which means “hand and bubble” in Greek.” Ew.
Anyway, I didn’t find that moisturizing helped. Neither did any anti-itch crap. Nothing that any doctor recommended to me helped. The only thing that did help, was ICE. Lots and lots of ice. Or anything very cold. Cold packs, whatever you got. It was the only way I finally started sleeping through the night during that bad outbreak. It stopped me from itching, so I wouldn’t aggravate it and pop the bubbles (again, ew). That’s how it spreads, I found. When the bubbles break and get the stuff in them elsewhere it really seems to spread.
I still get it sometimes, when I’m stressed or during the change of the seasons, but never that bad again. When my hands start feeling bumpy, I go for the ice and keep myself from scratching as much as possible, and it goes away. The hardest part is to not itch. God, that itching is intense, though. And it feels way too good when you do. Damn evil skin conditions.
Well, this was a long post. I hope this helps someone. I wish I had someone to tell me this stuff when I was first going through it.