Itchy palms: 6 causes, treatment, and prevention (2023)

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Itchy palms are often caused by common skin conditions, but they can also signal a more serious, underlying issue.

According to superstition, itchy left and right palms were thought to symbolize that a person is going to give away or receive some money.

However, there are some legitimate medical reasons why a person’s palms may start to itch.

In this article, we cover six possible reasons for itchy palms:

  • hand eczema
  • allergic reactions
  • diabetes
  • reactions to medication
  • cirrhosis
  • nerve disorders

The article also discusses ways to relieve the itching sensation, and prevent it from returning.

Itching can be annoying regardless of where it occurs. It can be especially irritating on the hands, as this can interfere with daily tasks.

The following conditions are some of the more common causes of itchy palms.

1. Hand eczema

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According to the National Eczema Association, an estimated 10 percent of people in the United States have hand eczema.

This non-contagious condition can cause itching palms, red skin, cracking, dryness, and sometimes blistering.

(Video) Itchy hands: Common Causes & Treatments for Itchy Palm | Health Solution

A subtype of hand eczema exists called dyshidrotic eczema, which causes a person to have small, itching blisters specifically on the hands and sometimes feet.

People most likely to have hand eczema include those who work in certain professions where hands are exposed to excessive moisture or harsh chemicals.

Professions at risk of hand eczema include:

  • catering
  • cleaning
  • hairdressing
  • healthcare
  • mechanic

Those with a family history of hand eczema are also at higher risk for the condition.

2. Allergic reactions

Sometimes itchy palms are the result of repeated exposure to an irritant or chemical that eventually results in an allergic reaction. This is called contact dermatitis.

An allergic reaction may appear 48 to 96 hours after contact with an allergen.

Common allergens or irritants include:

  • metals, such as rings and other jewelry
  • perfumes
  • latex gloves
  • soaps
  • disinfectants
  • antiseptics or antibacterial substances
  • dust and soil
  • highly chlorinated water

It may take repeated exposure before the allergic reaction develops. This is because, after a few times, the body begins to release itch-causing histamines that irritate the skin.

3. Diabetes

When a person has diabetes, too-high blood sugar levels can cause dry skin that also feels itchy.

This itchy skin may appear with or without red or flesh-colored bumps on the palms and other areas of the body.

4. Reactions to medication

Sometimes itchy palms can develop as a result of something that a person has ingested, rather than something their hands have been in contact with.

When a person has a mild allergic reaction to a new medication, the histamine reactions in the body can cause itching.

The palms, in particular, can be itchy in these cases because histamines tend to collect in higher numbers in the hands and the feet.

A person should speak to their doctor before stopping a prescription medication unless symptoms are severe.

5. Cirrhosis

An autoimmune disorder called primary biliary cholangitis or primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) can cause itchy, blotchy palms.

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PBC affects the bile ducts that connect the liver to the stomach. Bile that travels between these two organs builds up in the liver, causing damage and scarring.

In addition to itchy palms, a person with this disorder may experience:

  • blotchy palms
  • nausea
  • bone pain
  • diarrhea
  • dark urine
  • jaundice

PBC is more common in women. There is no known cause.

A person with PBC can take a prescription medicine called cholestyramine (Questran) to reduce itching symptoms.

6. Nerve disorders

Sometimes nerve damage to the hands, resulting from conditions such as diabetes can cause itchy palms.

Other dysfunctions of the hand nerves can have similar effects, including carpal tunnel syndrome.

In carpal tunnel syndrome, pressure on the median nerve in the hand causes numbness, weakness, itching, and pain in the hands. The itching or discomfort will usually start in the palms and most commonly occurs at night.

If carpal tunnel syndrome is suspected, a person should see their doctor. The doctor may recommend avoiding repetitive activity or wearing a wrist brace. In extreme cases, surgery is an option to reduce pressure on the median nerves.

People often link the effects of diabetes with itchiness of the palms and feet.

One 2010 study suggested that itching is a common symptom in people with diabetes. Around 11.3 percent of the people in the study who had diabetes reported itchy skin, but only 2.9 percent of the sample without diabetes advised the same.

Diabetes can cause itchy skin in several ways:

  • Diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that people with diabetes might experience, can lead to damaged nerve fibers in the hands and feet. Before this damage occurs, the body releases inflammatory chemicals called cytokines that cause itching.
  • Complications of diabetes include liver and kidney failure, and both of these might cause itchy skin as a symptom.
  • A person might experience an allergic reaction to a new diabetes medication, leading to increased itchiness.

If a person with diabetes experiences itchy skin, they should seek treatment as soon as possible. Irritated, itchy skin is more prone to infection, and diabetes reduces a person’s ability to fight infection if it occurs.

(Video) Dyshidrosis, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

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Treatments will vary based on the underlying cause of itchy palms. Some recommended treatments include:

Cool, damp cloth

Placing a cool, damp cloth onto the palms for 5 to 10 minutes can relieve the itching sensation. An ice pack may also be effective.

Topical steroids

Corticosteroids can reduce itching and redness on the palms during a flare-up. They can be bought over the counter or obtained by prescription.

Avoid using steroid creams too regularly as they can cause thinning of the skin.

Moisturize often

Moisturizing often can help reduce itching. Keeping the moisturizer in the refrigerator can make this treatment even more effective.

When itching is caused by eczema, moisturizing may be especially important after washing, or when the hands feel particularly dry.

The National Eczema Association list some recommended moisturizing products, sunscreens, and household cleaners on their website.

Mositurizers are available to purchase in supermarkets, drugstores, and online.

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Ultraviolet light therapy

A person with hand eczema or severe irritation may respond to ultraviolet light therapies. Placing the hands under a special light that emits ultraviolet-A rays may help to reduce symptoms.

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If a person has a condition such as contact dermatitis or hand eczema, avoiding known triggers of the condition might help prevent a flare-up.

If the cause of the itching is not known, it may be worth doing a patch test before using any new lotions or creams on the hands. Apply the product to a small area of skin and leave it on overnight to make sure it does not cause a reaction.

Other steps that can prevent itchy palms include:

  • Avoiding gloves made of synthetic fabrics. Cotton gloves should be gentler on the skin.
  • Washing hands with lukewarm water. Avoid water that is too hot or cold.
  • Using fragrance-free soaps or cleansers to wash hands.
  • Applying a moisturizer immediately after drying the hands. Those with higher oil contents are more likely to lock in moisture.
  • Using a moisturizer recommended by the National Eczema Society.
  • Wearing protective gloves when doing chores or working with chemicals or detergents. A person can wear cotton gloves inside latex gloves to prevent irritation from the latex.
  • Avoiding gel-based hand sanitizers as these often contain high concentrations of drying alcohol.

Keeping the skin moisturized and avoiding irritants can help with most causes of itchy palms.

If a person experiences itchy palms along with symptoms such as difficulty breathing, they should seek immediate medical attention. This could indicate a skin reaction that results in anaphylaxis or difficulty breathing.

If the cause of itchy palms is not known, a person should consult their doctor to find out the cause. The doctor can then recommend the best course of treatment.

(Video) SIGNS THAT YOU HAVE A LIVER DISEASE/ liver disease signs and symptoms

FAQs

What is the prevention for itching? ›

Short-term use of nonprescription corticosteroid cream may temporarily relieve an itch accompanied by red, inflamed skin. Or try calamine lotion or creams with menthol (Sarna, others), camphor, capsaicin, or a topical anesthetic, such as pramoxine (adults only).

Does itching palms mean liver problems? ›

Symptoms of itching with liver disease

Itching associated with liver disease tends to be worse in the late evening and during the night. Some people may itch in one area, such as a limb, the soles of their feet, or the palms of their hands, while others experience an all-over itch.

What deficiency causes itchy hands? ›

Dry, itchy skin is often a sign of a vitamin D deficiency. As vitamin D is created through skin exposure to the sun and cholesterol in the skin, in the winter months, when sunlight exposure is less, people often experience dry, itchy skin attributing it to the cold weather.

What causes itchy hands at night? ›

Circadian rhythm

In the evening, the body releases more heat, and blood flow to the skin increases, which may contribute to nighttime itching. In addition, skin loses water at night, resulting in dryness that can make you itchy.

Which tablet is best for itching? ›

Medications that help relieve itching include: Antihistamines (allergy pills): Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), Claritin (loratadine), Clarinex (desloratadine), Allegra (fexofenadine). Anti-itch creams: Topical corticosteroids may be helpful for small itchy areas.

What is the tablet for itching? ›

Search Conditions
Drug NameIndicationType
Atarax tabletOn Label|RX
BenadrylOn Label|OTC
diphenhydramine HClOn Label|RX/OTC
doxylamine succinate tabletOn Label|OTC
111 more rows

What foods cause itchy skin? ›

When it comes to food allergies, peanuts, wheat, eggs, cow's milk, soy and shellfish are among the most common culprits. The itchiness caused by these foods and subsequent scratching can then lead to flare-ups or worsening of dermatitis symptoms.

Can stress cause itching? ›

When anxiety kicks in, your body's stress response can go into overdrive. This can affect your nervous system and cause sensory symptoms like burning or itching of the skin, with or without visible signs. You can experience this sensation anywhere on your skin, including your arms, legs, face, and scalp.

What cancers cause itching skin? ›

The types of cancers that were most commonly associated with itching included:
  • blood-related cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma.
  • bile duct cancer.
  • gallbladder cancer.
  • liver cancer.
  • skin cancer.
Mar 7, 2019

How do I know if my liver is OK? ›

What are the signs and symptoms of liver disorders?
  1. tiredness and fatigue.
  2. loss of appetite.
  3. weight loss.
  4. low sex drive (libido)
  5. jaundice — when you have too much bilirubin, it causes yellow skin and eyes, and itchy skin.
  6. nausea and vomiting.
  7. diarrhoea.
  8. abnormal bruising and bleeding.

What does itchy left palm mean? ›

According to the Dictionary, having an itchy palm is a popular Idiom representing someone who needs or wants a tip or bribe.

What vitamin can cause itching? ›

However, this allergy is rare. Can too much vitamin B12 cause a rash or itchy skin? Yes, taking large amounts of vitamin 12 can cause a skin reaction in people who are sensitive to cobalt. The symptoms include an itchy rash.

Can B12 help with itching? ›

Chronic itching can be effectively remedied with vitamin B12 – at least if the itching is due to childhood eczema, also called atopic eczema. The highly skin-soothing effect has been demonstrated by six German dermatologists in a quite simple experiment with 49 patients.

Can vitamin B12 cause itching? ›

Oral vitamin B-12 is safe to take at recommended doses for healthy people. Injectable vitamin B-12, which is used to treat significant deficiencies, can cause the following side effects: mild diarrhea. itching.

Can liver disease cause itching? ›

Bile Salts- Those with liver disease may have higher levels of bile salt building up under the skin, which may cause itching.

What is a natural remedy for itchy skin? ›

The American Academy of Dermatology suggest that a good way to relieve itchy skin is to apply a cold, wet cloth or ice pack to the affected area for 5–10 minutes. Cooling helps reduce inflammation that may be contributing to the itch. Another option is to keep moisturizing creams and lotions in the refrigerator.

Can too much sugar cause itching? ›

Sugar intolerance symptoms

Some people may suffer with itchy skin after eating sugar, others may discover there is a link between eating sugar and bloating. There are signs of a sugar intolerance, which you can look out for.

Can eggs cause itching? ›

The most common symptoms of egg allergy are allergic skin reactions. Other symptoms include runny nose and itchy and watery eyes (similar to hay fever), cramps, nausea or vomiting. The best way to manage an egg allergy is to avoid all food containing egg or egg products.

Can milk cause itching? ›

Symptoms that can appear within minutes of having a small amount of milk include: raised red bumps of skin – hives (urticaria) itchy, red, weeping or crusty rash of the skin – dermatitis or eczema.

Are itchy hands a symptom of anything? ›

Itchy hands and feet, while normal to occur from dry skin, can also be caused by more serious conditions, including dyshidrotic eczema, allergic reactions, diabetes, impetigo, reactions to medications, scabies, cirrhosis, and peripheral nerve disorders.

How can I avoid stress? ›

Eat a well-balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise on a regular basis. Engage in self-relaxation. Try muscle relaxation, breathing or meditation exercises, prayer, yoga, or swimming to reduce stress. Spend time with nature or listen to quiet music.

How do you know when itching is serious? ›

When to see a doctor. See your doctor or a skin disease specialist (dermatologist) if the itching: Lasts more than two weeks and doesn't improve with self-care measures. Is severe and distracts you from your daily routines or prevents you from sleeping.

What internal conditions cause itching? ›

Conditions that may cause itching are varied and include liver disease, kidney failure, iron deficiency anemia, thyroid problems, and even certain cancers in rare cases (leukemia, lymphoma). In these cases, itching will typically affect your whole body while your skin appears normal.

What gastrointestinal cancers cause itching? ›

Buildup of Bile Salts

This often leads to severe itching. This may occur with leukemias and lymphomas due to the breakdown of blood cells. It may occur in abdominal cancers, such as those of the liver and gallbladder, and any cancer that spreads to the liver such as breast, lung, colon cancers, and more.

What are 4 warning signs of a damaged liver? ›

Tip-offs to Liver Damage
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the eyes or skin.
  • Pain and distention of the abdomen due to the release of fluid from the liver.
  • Swelling of lower legs due to fluid retention.
  • Confusion or forgetfulness. ...
  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Pale-colored stool.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
Nov 9, 2021

What are the 3 signs of a fatty liver? ›

Symptoms
  • Abdominal swelling (ascites)
  • Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin's surface.
  • Enlarged spleen.
  • Red palms.
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
Sep 22, 2021

How do you clean your liver? ›

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Eat a well-balanced diet every day. That's five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables, along with fiber from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Be sure to include protein for the enzymes that help your body detox naturally.

Is it lucky to have an itchy right hand? ›

According to Folk-lore from Adams County, Illinois, an itchy right hand is considered to be a sign of bad luck or misfortune. Then again, it also noted that rubbing your itching hand on wood will bring you good luck, so it seems there's a pretty easy way of reversing your bad fortune in this case.

What an itchy right palm means? ›

An itching left palm means money to be paid out, while an itching right palm is money coming in. But is there any truth to this one? Some experts say yes because itching palms often signifies new internal energy moving through the hands. The left hand is the passive, or receptive, hand and the right is the active hand.

What's the meaning of an itchy left palm? ›

According to the Dictionary, having an itchy palm is a popular Idiom representing someone who needs or wants a tip or bribe.

Why are my hands itchy but no rash? ›

Dry skin is a common cause of itchy skin without a rash. In most cases, dry skin is mild. It can result from environmental conditions, such as low humidity and hot or cold weather. It's also sometimes caused by activities that can decrease moisture in the skin, such as bathing in hot water.

Is it lucky to have an itchy right hand? ›

According to Folk-lore from Adams County, Illinois, an itchy right hand is considered to be a sign of bad luck or misfortune. Then again, it also noted that rubbing your itching hand on wood will bring you good luck, so it seems there's a pretty easy way of reversing your bad fortune in this case.

What does diabetic itching feel like? ›

People with diabetes tend to experience itchy skin more often than those without the condition. Persistent itching can be uncomfortable and might lead to excessive scratching, which can cause infection, discomfort, and pain.

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