The palms of our hands are the most used part of the body, but these areas are also sensitive. If the palms become itchy, it may affect your day-to-day tasks. Itchy palms can be a result of many factors or a symptom of many health conditions. Most people experiencing itchy palms apply hand creams or lotions to find relief and eliminate roughness. However, there are cases that the itchiness persists for a long period of time and may prevent you from completing your daily activities.
Common Causes and Treatments for Itchy Palms
Itchy palms are considered to be one of the signs or symptoms of a skin problem. Here are the possible causes of itchy palms:
1. Dry Skin
Our skin is the body’s first line of defense and there are many factors that can leave the skin itchy and dry. For example, staying under the sun for too long can damage the skin and result to dryness. Other causes of dry skin may include:
- Harsh soaps – If your dry skin is caused by harsh soaps, switch to mild and fragrance-free soaps.
- Winter – You can install a humidifier to keep enough level of moisture in your home.
- Taking a bath with hot water – Having a hot shower may feel really good but it does not help the skin and can make it even dry. It is best to use lukewarm water and keep your shower time short to prevent the loss of moisture from your skin.
- Aging – The production of collagen in the skin, as well as its elasticity, decrease. This may lead to dryness and cause itchy palms. Make sure that you always have a bottle of moisturizing lotion or apply natural remedies, such as aloe vera.
A skin problem can be the first symptom of diabetes. One of the skin problems of diabetes is eruptive xanthomatosis, which make the feet or hands itch. The legs, buttocks and arms can also be itchy if the diabetes is out of control. Other signs and symptoms of eruptive xanthomatosis include:
- High cholesterol
- Small bumps on the skin
- Redness around the bumps
The common symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, intense hunger, weight gain or weight loss, disproportionate thirst, irritability, blurred vision, increased fatigue, itchy skin, skin or yeast infection, swollen gums, numbness or tingling sensation in hands and feet.
Scabies is an itchy and contagious skin disease caused by the eight-legged itch mite Sarcoptes scabiei. It digs into the top layer of the skin and lays eggs, which cause scabies. The mode of transmission is direct skin-to-skin contact, but you do not get scabies from quick contact such as a hug or handshake. The signs and symptoms of scabies include:
- Skin rash composed of blisters and red bumps
- Red or skin-colored burrows
- Sores and scales
- Itchiness of the entire body or certain areas like between fingers, elbow, armpit or wrist
The treatments for scabies include topical or oral scabicidal drugs.
Another condition that can cause itchy palms is psoriasis. It is one of the most puzzling and persistent skin problems. This condition is characterized by multiplying skin cells up to ten times faster than average. It commonly occurs on the scalp, elbows, knees, and may also affect the soles of the feet and palms. There are many causes that lead to psoriasis, such as stress, emotional trauma, defect in immune system, and streptococcal infection.
Depending on the type of psoriasis a person has, the signs and symptoms may vary. The most common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, and its symptoms may include:
- Plaques of crust or scales on scalp
- Plaques of red skin which is usually covered with scales. These painful and itchy lesions may crack and bleed.
- Discoloration or pitting of toenails and fingernails.
Other types of psoriasis are:
- Erythrodermic psoriasis – characterized by shedding of scales and fiery redness of the skin. The causes include severe sunburn, certain medication, withdrawal from psoriasis treatment and infection.
- Guttate psoriasis – characterized by red spots on limbs and torso. The cause may be respiratory infection, skin injury, or anti-malarial and beta-blocker medications.
- Inverse psoriasis – characterized by red, shiny lesions. These commonly appear in groin area, under the breasts, and armpits.
- Pustular psoriasis – characterized by red and scaly skin on the palms and feet.
If you think that your itchy palms are caused by psoriasis, visit a dermatologist right away to have a proper examination of your skin.
Eczema can also cause itchy palms as the skin becomes irritated or inflamed. No matter which area is affected by eczema, it is always itchy. In some cases, the itch begins even before the rashes appear. It usually appears on the back of the knees, face, hands, wrists, or feet. The areas affected appear to be thicker, dry, reddish and scaly.
The exact cause of eczema is still unknown, but it is associated with an overactive reaction of the immune system to an allergen or irritant. This condition commonly runs in families with a history of asthma or allergies. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. The term atopic means a group of diseases with inherited possibility to develop allergic conditions, such as hay fever and asthma.
See your doctor if you develop an itchy rash and your family has a history of asthma or eczema. Your doctor may recommend:
- Ultraviolet light therapy
- Drugs for controlling the reaction of immune system
Other treatments are:
- Use mild soap and moisturizer. Do not use harsh soaps that can dry the skin.
- Take short showers.
- Manage stress levels by exercising, doing your hobbies, or spending time with your family or friends.
- Use a humidifier. Dry air can make eczema severe.
6. Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC)
Primary biliary cirrhosis leads to skin itching or pruritus. It is caused by damages to the bile ducts in the liver and the tissue is replaced with fibrosis (scar tissue). As more fibrosis occurs, liver function is affected. The cause of PBC is still unknown, but it may be associated with the body’s immune system. While other people do not develop any symptoms, some signs and symptoms of primary biliary cirrhosis include:
- Pruritus or itching
- Discomfort in the upper abdomen
- Dry mouth and eyes
- Vaginal dryness
- Yellowing of the white part of the eyes
- Yellowing of the skin
If the condition is already worse, a person may experience premature thinning of the bones (osteoporosis), fluid building up in the abdomen, or bleeding of enlarged veins in rectum, stomach, and esophagus.
The treatment for PBC is tough as the immune system of the body is affected. The treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms and treating the complications, as well as preventing other health conditions from occurring due to damage in the liver.
One of the medicines given to patients diagnosed with PBC is ursodiol. This helps in moving the bile from the liver and into the small intestines. If diagnosed and treated early, it can improve the function of the liver. It may also keep you from needing a transplant. If you are experiencing itchy palm along with the other symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
7. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the healthy cells of the body. It is a chronic disease that can have stages of worsening signs and symptoms. The exact cause of this condition is not known, but there are factors related to this disease, such as genetics and environmental factors, including trauma, ultraviolet rays, emotional or physical stress, certain medications, and viruses.
Most patients are able to live a normal life along with regular treatment. The common symptoms include:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Hair loss
- Rash on nose and cheeks (butterfly rash)
- Problems in blood-clotting
- Bluish or whitish fingers with tingling sensation
If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of SLE, see your doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment. The treatments for SLE may include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications for joint pain
- Steroid creams for rashes
- Antimalarial drugs for joint and skin problems
- Corticosteroids and other drugs for reducing the response of immune system
Severe SLE condition may lead to other complications, including stroke, heart inflammation, kidney failure, memory or behavioral changes, seizures and inflammation of the linings of the lungs.
8. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The compression of the median nerve leads to carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition results from too much typing, writing, and other physical activities that require the use of your hands and fingers. The most common signs and symptoms include itchiness of the palm, tingling and numbness sensation of the affected hand.
The treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include medications, such as ibuprofen, aspirin and corticosteroids to soothe the pressure of the nerve. A surgical procedure is required if the median nerve compression is already severed.
9. Food Allergies
You may experience itchy palm due to allergic reaction from certain foods such as milk, eggs, peanuts, seafood and soy. If the cause of your itchy palm is food allergy, you can alleviate the itchiness with antihistamines.