Itchy Palms Can Be a Serious Condition, Not Just a Superstition

October 24, 2017

What does an itchy right hand or itchy left hand mean?

Have you ever heard the superstition about itchy palms and money? Hopefully, your itchy hands will bring you sudden riches, but they’re more likely to be a sign of an irritating skin condition.

Some say itchy palms are a sign of greed. Others say that if your palms itch, it means there will be money in your future. When your left-hand itches it is said to be a sign that money will be coming your way and a itchy right-hand means money will be flowing out of your pocket.

Although the supernatural causes of itchy palms may never be known, there are many natural reasons why your hands might itch.


Eczema, also called dermatitis, is a common condition caused by inflammation of the skin. There are many different types of eczema, and symptoms can range from severe blistering to mild itching and cracked skin.

Some forms of eczema, such as dyshidrotic eczema, can present as red, cracked and scaly skin or small, itchy, fluid-filled blisters on the palms, sides of the fingers, toes, and soles of the feet. This type of eczema is often triggered by seasonal allergies or stress, and blisters can last for several weeks.

Using a mild soap and a high-quality moisturizer after bathing can help ease the symptoms of eczema. In some cases, your dermatologist may prescribe a steroid ointment or cream to reduce swelling and treat the blisters, or they may recommend an oral steroid such as prednisone.

“Excessive hand washing can also trigger eczema,” says Dr. Sital Patel, a board-certified dermatologist with U.S. Dermatology Partners Four Points. “Each time you wash your hands, some of the skin’s natural oils go down the drain, and many soaps can be especially harsh on sensitive skin. The best line of defense is to rinse your hands in lukewarm water and moisturize with thick cream or ointment often throughout the day.  For excessive dryness, you can even apply a petroleum jelly-derived ointment or thick moisturizing cream at and cover with cotton gloves at night.”


Itchy-foot soles or palms are also common symptoms of psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune inflammatory condition that affects more than 6 million people in the U.S. Psoriasis is caused when the immune system mistakes skin cells for a virus or other infection and responds by overproducing more skin cells.

Psoriasis is thought to be genetic, but it can also be triggered by factors such as stress, cold weather, hormones or infections like staph or strep throat. Some medications, like lithium and beta-blockers, have also been linked to psoriasis flare-ups.

Postular psoriasis can appear on the hands and feet as small white blisters and areas of redness. The condition is most common in women and can return several times over the course of months or even years. Inflammation of the joints is also a possible side effect.

Treatment of psoriasis typically begins with a mild topical cream and can progress to include prescription medications and phototherapy.

Dry Skin

In the winter months, the humidity of outdoor air sharply declines. At the same time, indoor heating strips moisture from indoor air. This dryness can lead to cracked, bleeding skin and itchiness.

“Colder temperatures are really hard on your skin — especially your hands,” says Dr. Patel. “The best defense is to include a high-quality moisturizer in your daily routine and use it often throughout the day.”

Frequently applying thick ointments, creams, and lotions to hands before they become dry is the best way to ensure that skin stays soft and smooth. Moisturizers should be applied after washing and drying hands and can also be used overnight with a pair of cotton gloves to retain moisture.

Using a humidifier to add moisture to dry inside air can also help to ease itchy skin on your hands — and the rest of your body.


Often, itchy palms and hands indicate an allergic reaction to something you have touched. Symptoms can present immediately or even hours later and may include a rash, extremely dry skin, hives, blisters or a burning or stinging sensation.

Your doctor may prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation and itching caused by an allergic reaction.

Dyshidrotic eczema can also be triggered by an allergy to nickel, cobalt or other metals that can be found in costume jewelry and other objects. An allergist can perform a patch test to determine which metals you are allergic to.

“Many household cleaners and chemicals can irritate your skin and cause an allergic or irritant reaction,” says Dr. Patel. “It is important to always wear protective gloves when using chemicals. Cotton gloves are best and should be worn under rubber or waterproof gloves to protect your skin from sweat and chemicals while cleaning and washing dishes.”


Itchy hands could also be an early sign of diabetes, a serious disease that occurs when the body does not respond normally to insulin. Eruptive xanthomatosis, a skin condition associated with diabetes, often causes itchy hands and feet. Other symptoms include small, yellow bumps surrounded by redness. Typically, when diabetes is under control, your skin condition also clears.

Looking to Visit a Dermatologist for Itchy Palms or Skin?

At U.S. Dermatology Partners we offer premier dermatology services for patients of all ages, including virtual dermatology visits for our North TexasColoradoKansas, and Missouri patients. Fill out our simple online form to get in touch with us and one of our local team members will reach out to you shortly to answer your questions or schedule an appointment for you to visit us soon.

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