You may be wondering, “Why do my hands and feet itch? What causes this irritating condition, and what does it mean? How can I find relief?”
Itchy palms or feet can be a minor annoyance or an underlying symptom of a bigger problem. Here’s how to stop itchy feet and palms and when to see a doctor.
Common Causes of Itching Palms and Feet
It is tempting to believe the superstition that itchy palms mean money is coming your way. Or that itchy feet mean there’s a journey in your near future. But there’s likely a less lucrative and glamorous set of causes for your exasperating condition. Let’s examine some of the common reasons for this persistent itchiness.
The medical term for dry skin is pruritus. This describes persistent skin itching that compels you to scratch the offending area. Hands and feet are especially vulnerable to pruritus. Every day, your hands come in contact with multiple surfaces covered in potential irritants. Feet spend most of the day encased in shoes where moisture collects.
If you’ve ever experienced itchy palms and feet, you’re familiar with the symptoms. Redness, bumps, spots, scales, cracks, and blisters can be exacerbated by scratching the itch, creating a vicious circle of irritation.
Itchy palms have a variety of causes. And older adults are particularly susceptible to dry hands since aging skin tends to be dryer. Let’s examine some common causes of itching hands:
- Dry Skin: Cold, dry winter weather can leave skin dehydrated.
- Hand Washing: We’ve all learned the importance of keeping our hands germ-free during the pandemic, but this healthy habit can also lead to dry palms.
- Hand Sanitizer: Another healthy habit we’ve adopted is the regular use of hand sanitizer, but the active ingredients in these products, while protecting us from germs, can also dry our skin, causing itchiness.
Itching feet also have some common causes. Let’s look at a few:
- Moisture: Moisture collects in shoes and socks and can be the source of blisters and cracks.
- Insect bites: Walking barefoot can be a carefree activity. However, it can also lead to irritating bug bites.
- Fungal infections: Fungal infections like athlete’s foot and ringworm may occur.
While many reasons for itching hands and feet are rarely chronic and will resolve with at-home treatments, there can also be more serious reasons for your persistent itch. Here are a few:
- Eczema: Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema is a chronic condition causing itching and swelling of the skin, including on the hands and feet.
- Allergies: Allergies can cause runny noses and itchy eyes and can also affect the skin on our hands and feet, producing redness and rashes.
- Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a cyclical, chronic inflammation of the skin that has no cure, but it can be treated.
- Diabetes: Persistent high blood sugar can create circulatory issues that affect the hands and feet, causing itchiness.
Relief from the Itchiness
When your itchiness just won’t quit, you would give anything to know how to stop itchy feet and hands. The good news is relief can be easily found for most of your nagging symptoms. How can you find relief? Try these common cures:
- Moisturize: Remember to moisturize your hands and feet, using thicker formulations in dryer weather.
- Gentle cleansers: Sometimes, cleansers contain harsh chemicals that irritate our skin. Choosing gentle cleansers with natural ingredients will be better for the sensitive skin on your hands and feet.
- Avoid hot water: Nothing feels better on a cold winter day than a steaming hot shower. But this can also be the source of your dry skin. Lukewarm showers and baths will prevent your skin from dehydrating.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep all the systems of your body running smoothly.
- Over-the-counter medications: medicated creams, steroid ointments, antihistamines, and allergy medications can all supply relief from your torment.
When to See a Doctor
Itchy palms mean something more serious may be occurring. Prolonged itching of the hands and feet can point to certain health conditions that shouldn’t only be managed at home but will need some medical attention. If your itching lasts more than two weeks and is accompanied by disturbances in sleep and concentration, or your itchiness comes on suddenly and without explanation, you should head to your local walk-in clinic.
American Family Care offers primary care for you and your whole family. AFC’s services include physical exams, routine check-ups, and primary care services so we can help you get to the bottom of your itchy palms and feet.
Walk-ins are welcome. Find a location today.