Itchy Palms: Possible Causes and Treatments

Itchy palms are a common symptom for a variety of disorders. Oftentimes, those experiencing it can easily manage the symptom by applying creams or other non-pharmacological means. Unfortunately, there are some cases wherein the itch persists for a very long time and is seriously distracting you from effectively doing your day-to-day activities. If this is the case, it is best that you have yourself checked, preferably by a notable dermatologist.

Causes of Itchy Palms

Having itchy palms can be a result of a variety of factors or disease conditions. Here are some of the common disorders that may lead to itchy palms.

  • Primary Biliary Cirrhosis - This condition leads to pruritus or skin itching. Even if the disease has not yet progressed, one of its earliest signs is itchiness on the palms of the hands and also the soles of the feet. The severity of the itchiness fluctuates as it may either strike the worst at night or at daytime. The itch is said to be caused by free bile acids in the bloodstream, which results from a pathology of the bile duct system.
  • Food Allergies - Some individuals are allergic to certain types of food. Milk, eggs, peanuts, seafood, and soy are popular sources of food allergens. Although food allergies result in several overt physical signs and abnormal systemic changes, integumentary (skin) changes may prove to be the most noticeable of them all. Itching of the palms and soles of the feet is one of the earliest signs of a food allergy.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - This condition is caused by median nerve compression, probably resulting from too much typing, writing, and other activities that require the use of the fingers and hands. Pain coupled with numbing itchiness of the palm and fingers are common manifestations of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Eczema - This is a broad disease condition that has many subtypes that are mostly characterized by itchy palms, feet, and the skin in general. A less common type of eczema is known for its hallmark symptoms of itchy palms and soles of the feet. This condition is known as dyshidrosis or palmoplantar dermatitis. The digits (fingers) also itch on their sides. The itchiness worsens during nighttime and during warm weather conditions.
  • Atopic dermatitis - This is just one subclass of eczema characterized by flaky, scaly, thick, very itchy, and reddened skin rashes. The cause of atopic dermatitis has been attributed to histamine intolerance and allergy, among other causes.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus - SLE is an autoimmune disorder, which means it attacks or kills the healthy cells of the body. The signs and symptoms of SLE include lesions and redness of the palms. The rash can become very itchy, making it very uncomfortable for those who are experiencing itchy palms.

Treatment for Itchy Palms

Treatment for itchy palms will have to depend on what's causing it. The challenge, though, is that some doctors and dermatologists have a hard time diagnosing the exact condition. Nonetheless, treating the root cause of the itch will eventually halt the symptoms of itchy palms.

  • For primary biliary cirrhosis, Ursodeoxycholic acid helps delay disease progression. To manage the itchiness, antihistamines are the best drugs to be used.
  • For allergies, the immediate management is to prevent exposure from the offending source of allergens. Powerful antihistamines may be needed to address severe anaphylaxis and persistent itchy palms.
  • For carpal tunnel syndrome, the treatment options can both be non-surgical and surgical in nature. NSAIDs (ibuprofen and aspirin) and corticosteroids like prednisone relieve the nerve pressure and control the symptoms of itchy palms to some extent. Acupuncture and other alternative treatments have been proven to decrease pain and improve hand grip. The surgical approach involves severing the tissue that causes the pressure on the median nerve.
  • Most forms of eczema have no real treatment. The management is just centered on relieving symptoms, most especially the itchiness felt. For atopic dermatitis, treatment is primarily centered on good skin care and the application of emollients that relieve swelling and allergic reactions. Antibiotics, antihistamines, and steroids are jointly used to relieve itchy palms and itchiness in general.
  • SLE, although an incurable disease, can still be managed by taking immune suppressing drugs like cyclophosphamide and corticosteroids.