If you suffer from itchy palms or hands, you know they can be a real nuisance. Learn about the causes, treatment, and prevention of this skin condition.

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Itchy Palms: Causes, Treatment, And Prevention

08/25/20238 min read

If you suffer from itchy palms, you know they’re more than just a nuisance you can ignore while you go about your day. Your hands are one of the most-used parts of your body, so when something is wrong with them, it’s going to interfere with your regular activities.

Thankfully, there are some easy ways to manage itchy hands if you’ve got them and prevent them from coming back once they’re gone.

In this article, we’ll examine the causes of itchy palms so you know what’s going on behind the scenes, and then discuss treatment and prevention so you can get back to normal as soon as possible.

Table Of Contents

Causes Of Itchy Palms

A person’s dry palm

1) Dry Skin

Dryness is one of the most common causes of itchy palms and occurs because your hands are losing the moisture they need to maintain soft, supple skin.

As we’ll discuss in this article, there could be a number of secondary causes that lead to dry skin on your hands. Fortunately, there are a number of simple and effective ways to treat and prevent these secondary causes from becoming a problem.

2) Skin Conditions

Skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema, may be the cause of your itchy skin.

Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes a rash with itchy, scaly patches that most often appear on the knees, elbows, torso, and scalp. Eczema is a broad term for a chronic genetic skin condition that results in patches of severe itchy and irritated dry skin.

Eczema flare-ups can occur anywhere on your body, including your face, your neck, your feet, and, yes, your hands.

Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions in the United States, affecting more than 31 million children and adults.

Hand with dry, cracked skin

3) Weather

Extreme heat and cold — or even just changes from one end of the spectrum to the other — can dramatically reduce the moisture in your skin and cause dry, itchy patches.

Other weather-related factors that contribute to dry skin include low humidity and extended sun exposure.

4) Allergies

Some allergic reactions can also lead to itchy palms and itchy hands.

When you’re exposed to allergens such as pollen, pet dander, or dust, your body releases histamines to help protect against those foreign invaders. The histamine response can result in symptoms like sneezing, coughing, runny nose, watery eyes, and even dry skin.

5) Environmental Irritants

Another possible cause of dry, itchy skin on your palms and hands may be some environmental irritants you came in contact with.

These irritants can include:

  • Chemicals (like those in detergents, fabric softeners, and cleaners)
  • Pollutants (such as car exhaust)
  • Chlorine (in swimming pools)
  • Harsh ingredients (in cosmetics and facial products)

If you experience dryness on your palms, consider keeping a skin journal where you can track how your skin reacts to different situations, conditions, and products. Look for patterns, and eliminate any irritants that may cause problems.

6) Medications

Sometimes, you may develop itchy palms not because of physical contact or something in the air, but because of a change in the medications you take.

If your doctor has recently increased your dosage or introduced a completely new medication, your body may react with a histamine response that concentrates in your hands and feet (leading to dry skin).

If you experience such a reaction, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

How To Treat Itchy Palms

Woman applying hand cream on itchy palms

1) Oatmeal Soak

To help reduce the symptoms of itchy palms, try soaking your hands in water and oatmeal.

Here’s an easy recipe for relief:

  • In a food processor, grind 1 cup of oatmeal (any type will do)
  • Fill a large bowl with warm (not hot) water
  • Add the oatmeal to the water
  • Soak your hands in the oatmeal water for 10 to 20 minutes
  • Pat dry with a soft towel when finished

2) Skin-Calming Cream

Woman holding a bottle of botanical cream

One of the easiest treatments for itchy skin on your hands is a calming skincare product that contains botanicals and other beneficial ingredients.

For example, if you suffer from an underlying condition like eczema, your skin may feel better after you apply an eczema-specific botanical cream like Bodewell Eczema Daily Calming Cream.

3) Cool Compress

Lowering the temperature of your skin can help decrease the symptoms of dry, itchy skin on your hands and palms.

An easy way to make a cold compress is to:

  • Soak a paper towel or washcloth in cold water for a minute or two
  • Hold the compress in your hands for 10 minutes
  • Repeat two or three times throughout the day

You can also try holding a cold object — such as a glass filled with cold water, a cold pack, or even a bag of frozen veggies — to achieve the same results.

If you choose the cold pack or the frozen veggies, reduce the exposure to three minutes.

4) UV Therapy

If you’re not finding relief with other treatments on this list, talk to your doctor about ultraviolet (UV) therapy (a.k.a. phototherapy).

Phototherapy involves exposing your skin to small amounts of UV light in order to encourage your body to produce vitamin D, which, in turn, helps strengthen your skin’s natural moisture barrier.

Keep in mind that too much UV light — whether directly from the sun or via phototherapy — can do more damage than good, so be sure to follow the advice of your family doctor or dermatologist.

5) Antihistamines

As we discussed earlier in this article, allergies, environmental irritants, and changes in the medications you take can cause your body to produce a histamine (or allergic) response.

If you think your itchy palms are the result of a histamine response, talk to your doctor about taking an antihistamine to help reduce the symptoms.

6) Topical Medications

Topical medications can also help reduce the symptoms produced by dry skin on your hands and palms.

These medications might include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Lidocaine
  • Creams that contain menthol or camphor

As with some of the other treatments on this list, be sure to consult with a doctor or dermatologist before applying any topical medication to your dry skin.

How To Prevent Itchy Palms

Woman putting lotion on her itchy palms

1) Wash Your Hands With Lukewarm Water

Hot water can strip your skin of the oils and moisture it needs to fight off dryness. You can help prevent this from happening by washing your hands with lukewarm water instead of hot water.

If you must submerge your hands in hot water (to do dishes, for example), try wearing rubber gloves to help reduce the damaging effects of high heat.

2) Apply Moisturizer

Applying moisturizer several times a day is a great way to help keep your skin hydrated and fight off the dryness that can lead to itchy palms.

Consider adopting a thrice-daily moisturizing routine (morning, noon, and night) and then reapplying your favorite cream or balm any time you wash your hands throughout the day.

3) Watch Out For Harsh Chemicals

Some products you might come in contact with on a daily basis — such as hand soaps and detergents — may contain harsh chemicals that can make your dry, itchy skin even worse.

Be sure to read the label of all products you touch throughout the day and avoid things like:

  • Alcohol
  • Retinols
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Parabens
  • Heavy scents
  • Phthalates
  • Phenoxyethanol

4) Wear Protective Gloves

Woman wearing gloves to protect her itchy hands

Another great way to prevent itchy hands is to wear protective gloves when you think you’ll come in contact with something that may dry out your skin.

We already mentioned wearing gloves when washing dishes in hot water, but other situations when you might want to wear protective gloves include:

  • Cleaning with harsh chemicals
  • Working outside
  • Handling rough or abrasive object

Note: Avoid gloves that are too tight. The pressure from the material can cause friction against your skin, which may do more harm than good.

5) Avoid Gel-Based Hand Sanitizers

As important as hand sanitizers are, you may want to avoid gel-based solutions because they often contain high concentrations of alcohol that can quickly dry out your hands and lead to itchy palms.

Opt for a hand sanitizer with ingredients such as glycerin and aloe vera that can help prevent the drying action of the sanitizer itself.

6) Try Not To Scratch

One of the most difficult things to do when you’re suffering from itchy palms is to avoid scratching. But do your best to resist the itch!

Scratching at already-dry skin can lead to cracks and abrasions that may get infected and even bleed if not treated properly.

If the itch becomes too much to handle, consider applying a thick moisturizer and then slipping on a pair of soft cotton gloves to help you avoid the temptation to scratch.

Relief Is On The Way

Woman with healthy-looking skin on her hands

Itchy palms and itchy hands can be irritating, uncomfortable, and distracting. But with proper treatment and prevention, you can keep the itch at bay.

As we mentioned in this article, start by identifying the triggers that cause the itch, and then find the right product to treat and prevent things from getting in the way of your busy life.

If eczema is the main cause of your itchiness, try Bodewell products, like our Eczema Daily Calming Cream and Eczema Daily Calming Cream On-The-Go, to hydrate your skin and relieve eczema-related symptoms.

And don’t forget to implement one or all of the preventative measures mentioned in this article to help avoid the triggers that bring on the itch. Before long, you should see a difference in how your palms and hands look and feel.

Soothed skin is in your future!


Cleveland Clinic
National Eczema Association
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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