The urge to scratch the skin of your palms can sometimes be very strong. Our palms and fingertips contain thousands of nerve endings and are very sensitive. In fact, scientists say that your fingertips can identify textures that are just nanometers in size.1 This means that any itch or discomfort in your palms can be more intense than itching in other parts of your body.
If the skin on the palms of your hands is itchy, it can interfere with your daily activities, and the urge to scratch can also affect your sleep during the night. Itchiness in your palms can range from a tickly sensation to an intense itch (sometimes referred to as pruritus) that can cause discomfort. Depending on the cause of your itchy palms, you may also suffer from dry, cracked skin, scaling, lesions, and red patches of irritated skin.
It is very rare that a red itchy patch on your palm is a sign of a serious medical condition. Usually, skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, fungal infections or allergies can be the root cause of the itchy sensation that you feel in your left, right or both palms. Many women who are pregnant also experience an itching sensation in their palms and soles of their feet. However, on rare occasions, itchy palms can be a sign of something more serious.
In this article I am going to examine authoritative sources as to the causes of itchy palms. You will also find some of the best home remedies which give relief from itchy palms and alleviate the sensation of having to scratch the inner surface of your hand.
Causes and Best Home Remedies for Itchy Palms
Here are the most common reasons why your palm can be itchy and what you can do to soothe the discomfort.
Psoriasis can affect the palms and soles and cause itchy, red thickened skin to develop. Very often the palms can be covered with loose, flaky skin and if psoriasis becomes worse, painful cracks can develop in the skin.
Doctors aren’t exactly sure what causes psoriasis in each patient. Dermatologist, Dr. Amy Stanway from the Waikato Hospital in New Zealand, says that the root cause as to why psoriasis affects mainly the palms and soles is unknown. Many times, psoriasis runs in families. Or it could be caused by damage to the skin, an infection, or even attributed to prolonged stress.2
If you have psoriasis on your palms and you want to get rid of itchy, inflamed skin, it is important to keep your palms well moisturized. One very easy way to hydrate your hands is to regularly apply virgin coconut oil or olive oil regularly. The properties of these oils will help to soothe and treat damaged skin.
To get relief from itchy palms caused by psoriasis and other skin conditions, you can use cayenne pepper. While it may seem that cayenne pepper would irritate the skin more, it contains a compound called capsaicin (this is what give chilies their spicy flavor) which can help reduce itching. The University of Maryland Medical Center says that ointments containing capsaicin can reduce itching and inflammation from psoriasis.3 You can buy capsaicin creams online or from some drug stores.
Turmeric can also help treat red itchy patches of skin on your palms. Studies into the therapeutic effects of turmeric on psoriasis have shown that curcumin (the main compound in turmeric) can effectively treat its symptoms.
A study published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine found that curcumin helps to reduce the activity of immune cells that cause psoriasis on the palms and other areas of the body.4 Some clinical trials suggest that turmeric is more effective than calcipotriol (a popular medicated ointment used to treat psoriasis) when applied to skin with psoriasis.5
Make a turmeric paste to reduce the sensation of itchiness on your palms and help get rid of scaly palms. To make the paste, you should mix a small amount of water with turmeric powder to form a thick paste. Spread a thin layer of the paste to your palms and cover with a gauze. In the morning, rinse the paste off with warm water. Keep applying the paste until the symptoms of psoriasis have gone completely. Please remember to take care not to let any of the paste onto bedding because it can stain linen yellow.
If you want to know how aloe vera, tea tree oil, and omega-3 supplements can help to treat psoriasis naturally, please read my article about the 12 natural ways to relieve psoriasis.
Eczema or various forms of dermatitis can cause severe, intense itching on the palms of your hands. Harsh chemicals, allergic reactions, stress, skin infections, and dry skin can all cause eczema.
The symptoms of hand eczema vary. According to dermatologist Dr. Amanda Oakley, one of the most common features of hand dermatitis is itchy and sometimes painful skin. A person may also experience swelling, blistering, and scaly skin.6
Pompholyx is a form of dermatitis that can cause tiny itchy blisters to form on the fingers, palms and sometimes soles of the feet. Conditions like fungal infections, skin reactions, sweating and stress can trigger outbreaks of pompholyx (dyshidrotic eczema).7
To help alleviate pruritus of the palms, all you have to do is gently massage small amounts of coconut oil into your palm. Apply the coconut oil several times a day and before bedtime to help keep your palms itch-free and highly moisturized.
Even though dry skin conditions can sometimes cause psoriasis or eczema, the dry skin itself can also cause itchiness. Dry skin (xerosis) on the palms of your hands usually cause itching without redness or inflammation.
If your palms are itchy because of dry skin, you should moisturize your hands regularly. Olive oil and coconut oil are natural skin moisturizers that can also reduce itchiness. To soothe dry itchy palms, apply a small amount of olive oil or coconut oil to the affected area 2-3 times a day to keep it properly moisturized.
Use the healing properties of oatmeal to treat itchy palms that are caused by dry skin, eczema, or psoriasis. Studies have shown that oatmeal contains a compounds called phenols that are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which can moisturize, soothe and protect skin.10
To use an oatmeal home remedy to soothe itchy palms caused by dry skin, eczema, or psoriasis, you should do the following:
- Mix 2 tbsp. ground oatmeal, 1 teaspoon raw honey and some water to make a thick paste.
- Apply the remedy to your palms by putting it between your palms and rubbing together.
- Leave on for 10 minutes and rinse off with warm water
- Use the oatmeal mixture once or twice a week to help reduce itchy palms and treat dry skin conditions.
Aloe vera is also a great natural home remedy to treat any kind of skin condition, including itchy palms caused by dry skin. The anti-inflammatory effect of aloe vera on the skin makes it a great remedy to help stop itchy palms. All you need to do is apply pure aloe vera gel directly to your palms and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing off. Use this remedy 2-3 times a week to reduce the itchy sensation.
Scabies is a caused by a mite that infects the skin and can cause a very severe itchy red rash on your palms and between your fingers. The itching will usually be accompanied by raised bumps or nodules on the affected area.
According to dermatologists, it can be difficult to treat scabies. The affected skin can start itching 4-6 weeks after the mites have infected the skin. Then it’s necessary to apply insecticides to kill off the mites and prevent further infestations. Even after you have successfully cured scabies, the itch may continue for several weeks after.11
Tea tree oil is a natural insecticide that can help to get rid of the mites that cause the itching. A study entitled “Therapeutic Potential of Tea Tree Oil for Scabies” said that 5% tea tree oil can help to kill off the mites that cause scabies, reduce inflammation, and alleviate itchy skin.
To make a tea tree lotion to stop the itching caused by scabies, mix a few drops of tea tree oil with 1 tbsp. coconut oil. Massage the tea tree and coconut oil remedy into your palms and between your fingers in the morning and before bedtime. Continue applying the mixture until the rash has gone and you no longer have any itching.
If you have a red circular itchy rash on your palm with clearer skin in the middle, it could be a sign that you have ringworm. Despite its name, ringworm is not caused by a worm but by a fungal infection on your skin. According to eMedicinehealth ringworm often affects the palms and in many cases, just one hand is affected.
Some types of ringworm infections will clear up on their own and so no treatment is necessary. If treatment is needed then an antibiotic called Griseofulvin can be used.
Allergies can cause mild to severe itching or pruritus on various parts of the body, including the palms. According to Thermo Fisher Scientific, a company dealing in allergy and autoimmune diseases, severe allergy symptoms can cause itching on the palms.14
Allergic reactions can be triggered by various allergens including certain foods, medications, and insect bites.
Antihistamines are usually prescribed to reduce the symptoms of allergies. However, there are many natural alternatives that can help to alleviate allergic reactions. One proven natural antihistamine that can help to reduce itching is stinging nettle (Urtica dioica).
One study into using stinging nettle as herbal antihistamine found that 300 mg of the freeze-dried herb was effective in reducing the severity of allergic reactions. If you suffer from food allergies, allergies from pet dander, or other allergens, try taking freeze dried stinging nettle to see if it helps to reduce itching, swelling, watery eyes, runny nose, and headaches.15
Cholestasis of Pregnancy
Itchy palms are experienced by many women who are pregnant, especially during the third trimester. The intense itching of the palms and soles of feet while expecting a baby is called cholestasis of pregnancy. Usually, when the baby arrives, the itchiness goes away on its own in a few days.
However, palms that cause intense itching during pregnancy can be very frustrating, especially because the itching can become worse at night and affect sleep. It is important not to ignore this itching because, according to the Mayo Clinic, it can be a sign of a liver condition that could affect the health of your baby.16 So, it’s important to inform your healthcare practitioner if you experience itchy palms during pregnancy.
To get relief from itchy skin if you have cholestasis of pregnancy, you can take an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal can give welcome relief from itching all over the body because of its soothing properties. To make an oatmeal bath to alleviate itchiness, this is what you should do:
- Grind one cup of raw oats in a blender or coffee grinder.
- Fill a bath with warm water and sprinkle the oatmeal powder under the running water.
- Make sure the oatmeal is thoroughly mixed with the water.
- Soak for 20-30 minutes.
- Then pat yourself dry with a clean, dry towel.
Take an oatmeal bath 2-3 times a week for natural relief from itchy skin.
Infection or medications can cause a skin reaction called erythema. This causes a rash of small red raised itchy spots on your palms as well as on other skin areas. As well as itchy red spots, erythema can cause headaches, sores inside your mouth, aching joints, and sensitivity to light.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, these itchy bumps caused by erythema usually appear on the palms, hands, elbows, feet and knees.17
To treat erythema properly, it’s important to identify what triggers the itchy rash. You should visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Some of the natural remedies for itchy skin in this article can also help to provide temporary relief from your symptoms.
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC)
Itchy palms can also be caused by primary biliary cirrhosis. PBC is an inflammatory condition of the liver that damages the small ducts that transport bile from the liver to the gallbladder.
Dr. John M Vierling on eMedicinehealth explains that 2 of the most common symptoms of primary biliary cirrhosis are itching and fatigue. Usually, the itching begins in the palms of the hands.18 The itching in the palms can be very intense during the night and affect your quality of sleep.
There are many other symptoms associated with PBC and it’s important to get professional medical attention if you also experience jaundice (yellowing of the skin), xanthomas (formation of yellowish nodules on the skin), or dark patches appearing on your skin. You should also be aware of other early signs of liver damage.