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Itchy Palms

Updated on January 16, 2014

What do Itchy Palms Mean?

Itchy palms are very annoying and extremely troublesome as they can distract one from accomplishing important tasks. Palm itchiness may involve one or both hands and could appear with or without a visible skin rash. The condition occurs due to various reasons, ranging from a simple skin irritation or vitamin deficiency to more complex systemic disturbances. Many also attribute this sensation to good fortune, which is a popular myth that has been prevalent all over the world.

Palm itchiness should be managed properly because of the possibility of a secondary infection that may arise as a result of heavy scratching. There are plenty of ways to manage itchy palms. Topical creams and ointments have been proven to relieve itchiness. But in case the condition persists, a dermatologist must be consulted to get a correct diagnosis and employ the appropriate treatment.

The Myths

Superstitions about itchy palms abound around the globe. In fact, many of these beliefs have been around for ages. There are slight differences, though, with regards to the meaning of palm itchiness from one place to another. An itchy left or right palm, or both palms have different meanings as well. Even so, they all share the same underlying belief that the palms become itchy because of the internal energy running through the palms.

The following are the superstitious beliefs regarding itchy palms.

  • Itchy left palm

In superstition, an itchy left palm refers to losing money for new services or something with great value. In other parts of the world like Central Maine, a big financial surprise is coming when the left palm becomes itchy. For many, though, it is fine to scratch an itchy left palm so as to avoid the chance of losing money.

  • Itchy right palm

The right palm is said to be active, so when it itches, the chance to earn money is on the way. This probably comes from services rendered for which the person is paid for. Scratching it means losing the opportunity to earn money. Rubbing the itchy right palm on any wooden object is the finest way to counteract the potential loss of fortune.

  • Both palms

A productive and fruitful day awaits those whose palms itch and they are likewise about to become rich as the myth perpetuates. But the Chinese consider this as a bad sign which should be addressed immediately. Meanwhile, Hungarians manage itchy palms by rubbing them against their hair. Some place their palms in their pockets and scratch them to prevent losing money.

Possible Reasons for Itchy Palms

Science can explain why the palms become itchy and point to external and internal sources as possible triggers.

External factors that cause itchiness of the palms include:

  • Irritants

Irritants like soap, detergents, cosmetics, solvents and paints can trigger palm itchiness and a skin problem known as contact dermatitis.

  • Allergies

Palm itchiness could also be brought about by allergic reactions to some medicines, seafood and vegetables and exposure to rubber and nickel.

  • Infection

Secondary infection in the hands caused by either bacteria or fungi can also result in palm itchiness.

Internal sources that cause the palms to become itchy are:

  • Liver disease
  • Blood disorders
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Crohn’s disease
  • HIV infection

Itchy palms could also be caused by stress and anxiety, vitamin deficiency in B1, B6 and B12, as well as heavy sweating. In other cases, the exact cause of palm itchiness is totally unknown and is referred to as idiopathic palm itchiness.


Itchy palms may or may not involve visible skin changes or rashes. Careful diagnosis is needed to plan the most effective treatment strategy. However, this can be challenging if internal factors are causing the problem and no visible changes on the skin are noted. This is usually the case when psychological factors like anxiety and stress are involved. On the other hand, itching caused by drug allergies may produce mild redness but intolerable itchiness. Also, skin changes can also be noted several hours or days after exposure to the irritant.

The doctor will try to determine the underlying cause of the problem. He or she will look for visual manifestations like skin changes, redness and blisters, and check the medical history of the patient. The doctor will conduct further tests to determine the cause of itchy palms without apparent skin changes. Itchiness that is felt not only on the palms but on the other parts of the body requires timely diagnosis.

Treating Itchy Palms

An itchy palm can cause a great deal of distraction and frustration especially when performing day to day activities involving the hands. There are various ways to manage an itchy palm or palms. Anti-itch creams and ointments help in relieving itchiness. Keeping hands away from hot water or any activities that cause the hands to be submerged in water also help in preventing the itchiness from aggravating. Persistent itchy palms require accurate diagnosis by the doctor so that the condition can be treated effectively.


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