Hand Fungus (Tinea Manuum): Causes, Symptoms & Natural Treatments

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Hand Fungus (Tinea Manuum): Causes, Symptoms & Natural Treatments

Hand fungus is a contagious skin rash that can develop on the palms of your hands, between your fingers, or back of your hands. The unsightly rash that a hand fungal infection cause can be very itchy, turn into sore blisters, and cause general discomfort. In time, you may notice that the fungal hand rash discolors your skin and causes a dark patch.

Hand fungal infections are caused by dermatophytes which are a type of fungus that usually affects the skin. In many cases, symptoms connected with hand fungus can affect the nails too. For example, it’s common that the fungus can make your fingernails or toenails appear thick and crumbly. Or, you could suffer from a fungal foot infection called athlete’s foot. In fact, it is often scratching itchy toes that causes the fungus infection to spread to your hand.

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To treat hand fungus, it’s important to apply natural antifungal creams to get rid of the skin rash on your hand for good. Some of the best natural remedies to treat hand fungus are tea tree oil, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic and aloe vera. These natural ingredients contain properties that kill off hand fungus pathogens and soothe an itchy rash at the same time.

In this article, I am going to look at the different causes of hand fungal infections. You will also find great home remedies to get rid of the fungal condition on your hand.

What is Hand Fungus (Tinea Manuum)?

The medical name for a hand fungus on one or both hands is tinea manuum.

According to Dr. Robert Forbes from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the fungal infection of your hands is caused by a dermatophyte infection. These are common infections that can affect the feet (athlete’s foot), groin (jock itch), beard area (tinea barbae), and, of course, your hands.1

The fungus on the hands, fingers, or palms is less common than tinea pedis (athlete’s foot). However, the fungal infection on one or both of your hands can be distressing because other people can easily notice it.

Dermatologists report that in the majority of cases, tinea manuum only affects one hand. However, it’s not uncommon that fungal infections appear on both hands. The fungal infection may also affect your nails if the hand fungus is on your fingers.2

How Does Hand Fungus (Tinea Manuum) Look Like?

Having an itchy fungal infection on your hand can be very frustrating. Apart from the unpleasant appearance of a scaly red patch of skin on your hands, you may notice peeling from skin rash.

According to Dr. Beth Goldstein from the Department of Dermatology at the University of North Carolina, hand fungal infections can look like a red ring. The circular patch of red skin may have a raised border and have an incessant itch.3

Sometimes, a hand fungus infection can look like a patch of dry peeling skin on the palm that itches. In some cases, you may notice that you have blisters on the rash that ooze clear sticky fluid and then crust over. This type of hand fungus rash feels like a burning sensation on your hand.2

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Diagnosing if the skin rash on your hand is caused by a fungal infection can be difficult in many cases. Dr. Laruence Knott on Patient.info says that tinea fungal infections can look like eczema or psoriasis.  These inflammatory skin conditions also cause patches of red scaly skin on the hands that create a bumpy look on the skin. Flaking patches of skin that cracks, itches, and becomes crusty can occur with hand fungus, eczema, and psoriasis, so in order to get an accurate diagnosis, some cases may require taking skin scrapings for medical analysis.

What Causes Hand Fungus on Your Hands?

Let’s look at some of the common reasons for hand fungus that can appear on the palms of your hands, between your fingers, or on the back of your hands.

Scratching athlete’s foot spreads the fungus to the hand

One of the most common reasons for patches of red itchy skin that hand fungus causes is from scratching athlete’s foot.

Dr. Beth Goldstein (quoted earlier) says that fungal hand infections are often accompanied by foot fungus infections. This is sometimes referred to as “two-feet, one hand syndrome.”

The International Journal of Dermatology explains that fungal infections are highly contagious. Many individuals who contract hand fungus get this from picking at fungus-infected toenails or scratching itchy feet. This is why hand fungus often affects the dominant hand.5

Contact with other fungus-infected objects causes hand fungus

One way you can get fungus on your hands is if you have come into contact with other items that are infected with dermatophytes.

For example, Dr. Barry Hainer in the journal American Family Physician writes that fungi contacted from other people, animals, and soil can result in fungal hand infections. It is also possible to catch fungal infections from hair brushes, upholstery, or hats.6

Dermatologists report that usually, hand rashes that are contracted from soil or animals have a distinct red border to it. If the itchy fungal rash on your hands looks more like a dry itchy patch of skin, then it is most likely from contact with an infected human.3

Allergic reaction causes tinea manuum

One way that a hand rash is connected to a fungal infection is when there is an allergic skin reaction to the fungi.

Dermatophytes can cause allergic reactions to areas of skin that aren’t infected with a fungal infection. According to Dr. Denise Aaron from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, some hand rashes are allergic reactions to fungal infections on other parts of the body. This can cause raised red patches of skin that may blister and fill with fluid.7

How to Treat Hand Fungus (Tinea Manuum)

Let’s look at some of the best natural antifungal remedies you can use to treat hand fungus effectively and quickly.

Tea tree oil and coconut oil for hand fungal infections

One way to treat tinea manuum (hand fungus) is to apply tea tree oil and virgin coconut oil, both of which have antifungal properties.

A mixture of tea tree oil and coconut oil doesn’t just help to kill off fungi that cause rashes, but helps to soothe hand fungus peeling skin.

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Tea tree oil is a well-researched antifungal treatment that can help to destroy fungal diseases. For example, the Nepal Journal of Dermatology, Venereology & Leprology reported that tea tree oil has effective antifungal properties. In fact, it was just as effective as clotrimazole in getting rid of fungal infections.8 Clotrimazole is often recommended by dermatologists to treat hand fungus.9

To make your own antifungal hand cream, you can use coconut oil for its antimicrobial properties. The journal Scientifica reported that coconut oil can help get rid of fungal infections. Studies found that coconut oil has a similar effect on fungal infections to ketoconazole. This is another pharmaceutical antifungal cream that is used for treating the symptoms of hand fungus.10

How to use a coconut oil and tea tree oil remedy for hand fungus:

Here are the steps to make your own hand cream for fungal infections:

  1. Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil to form an ointment.
  2. Apply a small amount of the natural remedy to the itchy red patch on your hand.
  3. Use the remedy 2-3 times a day and continue using until all signs of the tinea hand infection are gone for good.

You can also use a drop or two of undiluted tea tree oil on nails to get rid of a nail fungal infection. The coconut oil/tea tree oil ointment can also be used as a natural eczema remedy.

Lavender oil for fungal infections

Lavender is another essential oil that is effective for getting rid of a fungal infection on your hands or feet.

The Journal of Medical Microbiology reported on the antifungal properties of lavender essential oil. Studies have shown that lavender can help to kill off dermatophytes that cause fungal skin infections. It was also found that lavender oil is an effective antifungal agent even when hand fungus infections are resistant to pharmaceutical drugs.11

To use lavender oil to help get rid of a fungal infection from your hand, all you have to do is mix 2-3 drops of essential oil with a tablespoon of coconut oil. Apply to the affected patch of skin on your hand daily.

Lavender can also be used to keep your skin looking youthful and healthy.

Garlic to kill off hand fungus dermatophytes

Garlic is a very potent antimicrobial home remedy that can help to get rid of hand fungus dermatophytes.

The International Journal of Dermatology reported that garlic has a powerful effect against dermatophyte infections. It was found that garlic extracts were as effective as standard antifungal drugs to get rid of fungal diseases including ringworm (a type of contagious fungal skin condition).12

How to use garlic to treat hand fungus (tinea manuum):

Garlic is too strong to put directly on your skin. So, to make your own hand fungus cream from garlic, you should mix it with another antifungal ingredient. This is what you should do:

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  1. Crush one clove of garlic and allow to stand for 5-10 minutes. This allows the allicin (the active ingredient in garlic) to form.
  2. Mix the crushed garlic clove with a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil. (Or, you could use aloe vera gel).
  3. Apply the antifungal garlic treatment to the itchy patch of infected skin on your hand.
  4. Leave the remedy for 20 minutes and rinse off with warm water.
  5. Then, apply a small amount of coconut oil to the bumpy patch of skin on your hand, palms, or between your fingers as a natural moisturizer.
  6. Use 2 times a day until the hand fungus has gone completely.

The antimicrobial properties of garlic are also effective in treating a number of ailments naturally. In fact, it is one of the most powerful natural antibiotics.

Aloe vera and tea tree oil to make hand fungus cream

You can also make a very effective moisturizing healing hand cream for hand fungus with aloe vera.

Aloe vera is well-known for its amazing properties to heal damaged skin. For example, aloe vera is a great natural remedy for burned skin. However, aloe vera is also full of antioxidants and antimicrobials that have antifungal properties.

According to research into the antifungal use of aloe vera, the journal Oman Medical Journal reported that aloe vera can destroy fungi and treat fungal infections. It was found that aloe vera has antifungal properties and contain enzymes, nutrients, and minerals that benefit the skin.13

How to use aloe vera for hand fungus

The best way to use aloe vera as a natural hand fungus remedy is to add a few drops of tea tree oil to it. Here is how to make your own antifungal ointment at home:

  1. Take a tablespoon of aloe vera gel and mix it with 2-3 drops of tea tree oil.
  2. Apply the antifungal remedy to patches of itchy skin on your hands or between your fingers.
  3. Use 2-3 times a day and continue using all symptoms of hand fungus have gone for good.

The best kind of aloe vera gel to use is the kind with as few added ingredients as possible. Alternatively, you can squeeze the flesh from an aloe vera leaf and apply that directly to your hands as a natural moisturizer.

Apple cider vinegar for tinea manuum infections

Raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar can also be used as a natural hand fungus treatment or for ringworm on your palm.

The benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV) for fungal infections come from the high levels of acetic acid. The acidic content of apple cider vinegar helps to reduce itching and also destroy germs, fungi, and bacteria on the skin.

For example, the journal Microbiology Research reported that acetic acid can inhibit the growth of various fungi. Acetic acid does this by lowering the pH levels of the skin to a level where fungi cannot multiply. This can help to treat outbreaks of hand fungus without the side effects caused by some pharmaceutical drugs.14

How to use apple cider vinegar as a hand fungus home remedy:

It is very easy and cheap to use apple cider vinegar to get rid of a fungus hand rash that itches and has crusted over. This is what you should do:

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  1. Dilute raw apple cider vinegar with equal amounts of water.
  2. Dip a cotton ball in the ACV solution and gently dab on the red patches of bumpy skin on your hand.
  3. Allow to dry and then rinse off with warm water.
  4. Repeat 2-3 times a day to help get rid of the itching and kill off the fungi causing the tinea hand infection.

You can also use ACV for treating different kinds of yeast infections. It can also be diluted with water to make a natural cleansing toner for your face or help get rid of acne outbreaks naturally.

Honey, olive oil, and beeswax hand fungus remedy

A mixture of honey, olive oil, and beeswax can help to treat hand fungus on the hands and fingers.

The effectiveness of these three ingredients for eliminating fungal infection was outlined in a study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine. Researchers found that honey, olive oil, and beeswax was effective against various tinea infections. When applied topically, the honey remedy helped to get rid of fungal infections in up to 80% of patients.15

How to make your own honey treatment for hand fungus:

Here is how to make your own topical ointment for treating hand fungus naturally:

  1. Fill a pot with boiled water and place a smaller pot inside (double boiler) with a tablespoon of beeswax. Melt it slowly.
  2. Add a tablespoon of raw honey when the beeswax has melted and whisk together.
  3. Pour in a tablespoon of olive oil and mix well.
  4. Pour the mixture into a suitable glass jar and let it cool.
  5. Apply the healing salve to your hand fungus 2-3 times a day and continue using until you no longer have a hand fungal infection.

The natural hand cream for fungal infections can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 3 months.

How to Prevent Hand Fungus (Tinea Manuum)

It can take up to a month to completely heal and get rid of a hand fungal infection. Therefore, the best course of action when it comes to hand fungus is to prevent the infection spreading in the first place.

To prevent the tinea manuum infection spreading to your hands, this is what you should do:

  • Always wash your hands before and after touching an area of skin that already has a fungal infection.
  • Don’t scratch itchy patches of skin at the top of your thighs or between your toes.
  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact with another person who has a fungal infection.
  • Always wear gloves when handling animals or working with soil. Wash your hands afterward.
  • Don’t share towels.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Spread of Hand Fungus (Tinea Manuum)

Here are answers to many questions that people have about hand fungus and how to get rid of it.

Tinea manuum vs. hand dermatitis (eczema) – What’s the Difference?

It can be difficult to tell apart tinea manuum infections and hand dermatitis (eczema). One way that doctors can tell if the red scaly itchy rash is a fungal infection is by taking a swab for analysis.

According to some dermatologists, there are some visible signs that can help to tell the difference between a fungal infection and eczema. For example, hand fungus rashes usually have a raised edge and usually just appear on one hand.2

Also, Dr. Jeffery John Meffert on eMedicineHealth says that tinea infections will often affect the palms of the hand, whereas eczema is generally on the backs of the hands.

Can athlete’s foot spread to hands?

Yes, athlete’s foot can spread to the hands. In fact, according to Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD, athlete’s foot can spread if you scratch the itch on your foot and then touch other parts of your body.17 This is sometimes called the “two feet-one hand syndrome” and it is thought to be the principal way that tinea manuum develops.5

Can ringworm appear on hand?

Yes, ringworm can appear on the hand and is a form of fungal infection on the hands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ringworm is a common infection of the skin and nails. Depending on where it appears on the body, it has a different medical name. If ringworm appears on the hands, it is medically referred to as tinea manuum.18

Is hand fungus contagious?

Yes. Doctors from the Victoria State Government say that tinea (fungal skin infections) is a highly contagious disease of the skin.

Should I see a doctor for hand fungus?

In most cases, natural antifungal remedies can help to treat fungal infections of the hands within a few weeks.

However, if your symptoms persist or you have signs of a secondary skin infection, you should visit your doctor or dermatologist for professional advice.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. AFFP. Diagnosis and management of common tinea infections.
  2. DermNetNZ. Tinea manuum.
  3. UpToDate. Dermatophyte (tinea) infections.
  4. PatientInfo. Dermatophytosis.
  5. Int J Dermatol.1997 Sep;36(9):658-60.
  6. Am Fam Physician.2003 Jan 1;67(1):101-109.
  7. MerckManuals. Dermatophytid reaction.
  8. NJDVL. Vol. 13, No. 1, 2015 Page: 24-30.
  9. Med Cutan Ibero Lat Am.1985;13(6):497-501.
  10. Scientifica (Cairo). 2016; 2016: 7061587.
  11. ScienceDaily. Lavender has a potent antifungal effect.
  12. Int J Dermatol.1995 Apr;34(4):278-9.
  13. Oman Med J. 2017 Jan; 32(1): 41–46.
  14. Microb res. 2003; 158(4):321-326.
  15. Comp Therap Med. 2004; 12(1): 45-47.
  16. eMedicineHealth. Eczema.
  17. WebMD. Myths & facts about athlete’s foot.
  18. CDC. Definition of ringworm.
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