Itchy Palms – Money Superstition or Serious Health Issue?

There is an old superstition that when your palms itch, it means money are coming your way [1] To be more precise, itching left palm means money to be paid out, while if your right palm is itching, money are coming in.

According to the superstition, you want to stop the left palm from itching (as you want money coming in, not out), rub the palm on a piece of wood. With that in mind, is this old tale of itchy palms superstition, or is there something true there.

Well, if you look at it, itching palms often show new internal energy moving through the hands. The left hand is passive, or receptive, while the right is active.

When your left-hand itches, it means new energy or services are coming your way, and that will cost you money. When your right-hand itches, energy is going out, and you will get paid for the work.

With that in mind, when you look pass the superstition, itchy hands can sometimes be a serious medical and health problem.

Today, we will look at the medical reasons why your hands are itching. If you believe in superstitions, that is all good for you. But we want to be medically sure.

Itchy palms are often caused by common skin conditions. In most cases, the itching is a symptom for a more serious, and an underlying issue.

Look pass the superstition of receiving and giving money, and there is a legitimate reason why your palms may start to itch.

We will look at the most common causes of itching, and those are hand eczema, allergic reactions, cirrhosis, diabetes, reactions to medications, and nerve disorders.

Common causes of itchy palms

Hand eczema

No matter where it occurs, itching can be annoying, irritating, and bothersome. On the hands, itching is even more irritating, as it will interfere with your daily tasks and activities.

We mentioned what are the common causes for itching in palms, but let’s look at each of them more deeply.

Hand eczema

The National Eczema Association estimates that 10% of people in the United States have hand eczema [2]

The condition is non-contagious, but it can cause a variety of problems. Among those, itching palms, cracking, dryness, blistering on your hands, and red skin.

Another subtype of hand eczema is dyshidrotic eczema[3] This condition causes a person to have small and itching blisters on the hands and feet.

Anyone can have eczema on their hands, but there are certain professions where the risk if higher. Workers in these professions have their hands exposed to excessive moisture or harsh chemicals.

These professions include:

  • Catering
  • Cleaning
  • Healthcare
  • Mechanic
  • Hair dressing

Allergic reactions

The most common cause of itchiness is an allergic reaction [4] This happens when your palms and hands, or any other part of your body is repeatedly exposed to an irritant or chemical that will result in an allergic reaction.

Another name for this condition is contact dermatitis. The reaction appears 48 to 96 hours after exposure to the allergen. Some of the common irritants and allergens include:

  • Soaps
  • Metals, including rings and other jewelry
  • Perfumes
  • Disinfectants
  • Latex gloves
  • Antiseptic substances
  • Antibacterial substances
  • Dust and soil
  • Highly chlorinated water

Now, a one-time exposure might not result in an allergic reaction. However, repeated and constant exposure to the irritant will certainly result in an allergic reaction.

After a few times, your body starts to release itch-causing histamines that irritate the skin, as a reaction to the allergen.


As if you do not have enough problems when you suffer from diabetes, your hands are itching as well. The reason why your hands itch is because of your blood sugar.

Too high blood sugar levels will cause dry skin, and your hands and palms will feel itchy [5]

When you have diabetes, itchy skin can appear with or without red or flesh-colored bumps on the palms. These bumps can also appear on other areas of the body.

Reactions to medications

In some cases, itchy hands can be a result of you ingesting something, not what you touch. This applies especially for an allergic reaction to a new medication.

There are a number of medications that can cause itching as a side effect [6] But in most cases, your body releases histamine as a reaction to a new medication.

Histamines tend to collect in higher numbers in the hands and feet. If your itching symptoms are severe, you should talk to your doctor about stopping your prescription medication, and trying some other medication.


This autoimmune disorder called primary biliary cholangitis or primary biliary cirrhosis can also cause blotchy palms and itchy hands.

The condition affects the bile ducts that connect the liver to the stomach. Because of the condition, bile builds up in the liver, which causes damage and scarring of the liver. The result is itching in hands.

But there are other symptoms, including:

  • Nausea
  • Bone pain
  • Blotchy palms
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundce
  • Dark urine

The condition is more common in women, and there is no known cause.

Nerve disorders

In some cases, nerve damage to the hands can result in conditions such as diabetes. And we already know diabetes causes itchy palms.

Other dysfunctions of the hand nerves include carpal tunnel syndrome [7] If you are affected by the syndrome, the pressure on the median nerve in the hand causes numbness, weakness, itching, and pain.

The itching starts in the palms, and usually happens at night. See your doctor if you suspect carpal tunnel syndrome is the cause behind itching hands.

How to treat

The most important treatment advice is to keep your skin on the hands moisturized, especially after washing them. Treatments for itchy hands and palms depend on the underlying cause of the problem.

With that in mind, here are some common and popular treatments.

Cold compress

Place a cool, and damp cloth onto your palms. Keep it there between 5 and 10 minutes to relieve the itching sensation. You can also use ice pack wrapped in cloth.

Topical steroids

Your doctor may prescribe topical steroids (often called corticosteroids) to reduce itching and redness on your palms. These steroids will help you during a flare-up. You can get them over the counter as well, or ask your doctor for a prescription.

And while they are helpful and effective, you should avoid using them to regularly. They can cause thinning of the skin.


As mentioned previously, the best treatment for itching in palms is to moisturize them often. Keep the moisturizer in your fridge to make the treatment even more effective. Always moisturize your hands after washing, when they feel dry.

Ultraviolet light therapy

This therapy is recommended only for people with hand eczema or other severe irritation. During the therapy, you will place your hands under a special light emits ultraviolet-A rays to help reduce the symptoms.

How to prevent itchy hands?

There are a number of ways you can prevent itching in palms. For starters, if you have contact dermatitis or hand eczema, you should avoid known triggers of the condition that can cause flare-ups. If the cause is unknown, there are other ways to prevent it.

You can always perform a patch test before using any new lotions or creams on your hands. This will help you determine whether these products will cause itching or not.

With that in mind, some good prevention tricks include:

  • Avoid wearing gloves made of synthetic fabrics, and instead, wear cotton gloves which are gentler on your skin
  • Wash your hands with lukewarm water. Never use water that is too cold or too hot
  • Use fragrance-free soaps or cleansers when washing your hands
  • Apply a moisturizer after drying your hands
  • Use a moisturizer that is recommended by the National Eczema Society
  • Avoid gel-based hand sanitizers as they contain high concentration of drying alcohol

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