Left Hand Itching: Likely Causes of Itchy Arm or Palm (Science Based)

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Left Hand Itching: Likely Causes of Itchy Arm or Palm

Some of the reasons why your left hand is itching could be due to an allergy, dry skin, irritation, or stress. Usually, the tingling, irritation, or prickly sensation in your palm or fingers is a temporary condition and is nothing to worry about. However, having a constant hand itch, itchy bumps on your hand, an itchy wrist, or irritating rash on your palm can be very annoying and inconvenient.

Very often, home remedies like a cold compress or aloe vera help to reduce hand itching and relieve other associated symptoms.


Some causes of an itchy left hand like psoriasis, eczema, or fungal infection could be more difficult to manage. Along with the mild to severe itching, you may also have a red rash, scaling on the back of your hands or palms, or fluid oozing from the affected area. In these circumstances, natural treatments can help to soothe the itch and reduce hand irritation.

In this article, I will examine what scientific research has uncovered as to the real reasons why you may experience left-hand itching. This will help to debunk many of the myths surrounding the causes of an itchy left hand or right hand. At the end of the article, you will find helpful home remedies to alleviate itching from your left hand.

What Does it Mean When Your Left Hand Itches?

Hand itching is a common complaint that affects many people. The medical name for itching it pruritus and an itchy hand can mean that you are suffering from a skin condition. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology describes hand itching as an irritating sensation that creates a desire to scratch.1

Depending on the underlying cause of the itchy patch on your hand, you may have other symptoms. For example, along with hand itching, you may also experience any of the following:

  • Tingling in the top of your arm that reaches to the tips of your fingers
  • Itchy rash on the palms of your hand that cause an insatiable desire to scratch your palms
  • Scaling red patches on the backs of your hands that cause a creeping feeling
  • Itchy hands and itchy feet that may or may not be accompanied by a rash
  • Small bumps on the backs of your hands that are itchy
  • Swelling of the dorsum part of the hand (back) along with redness, itching, and desire to scratch

Superstitions related to itchy left hand

Interestingly, there are old superstitions related to having itchy hands. Some people say that an itchy left palm means that you will have to pay out money to someone. If your right palm itches, it is said to be a sign that you will receive money. Seemingly, to relieve the itchy left palm and prevent losing money, you should rub your left palm on the corner of a wooden table.

Why Left-Hand Itching is Common

Itchy skin that may be accompanied with rash can affect almost any area of the body. There are a few reasons why the hands are especially susceptible to itching and irritation.

According to the journal Brain, there are about 14 different types of nerves in the hand. Many of these nerves end in the hand and react to different stimuli from organs or other functions in the body.2 Because we use our hands so much, and nerve endings are connected to other parts of the body, itchy hands are common with many conditions. Your feet also contain many nerve endings and that explains why some conditions cause both your hands and feet to itch.

Dr. Brandon J. Wilhelmi, a Professor of Plastic Surgery, says that palms also have a high concentration of nerve endings that are essential for touch and gripping items. Also, the blood vessels in the back of your hand mean that it is vulnerable to swelling.3

The Ulster Medical Journal reports that another reason why itchy arms and hands are common is the itch-scratch cycle. For example, the right hand can easily scratch any itchy left forearm. This can create an itch-scratch cycle which aggravates the itchy sensation in the arm or hand. Too much scratching can lead to secondary bacterial skin infections.4

Left-Hand Itching: Common Causes

Let’s look in more detail at what it can mean if your left hand itches.

Allergy

Left-hand itching that also shows signs of red skin and a burning sensation could be due to an allergic reaction. For example, some people suffer from itchy skin after shower because they are allergic to their shampoo.

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The journal Informed Health Online reports that the hands can easily come into contact with substances that cause an allergic reaction. This often shows up as itchy swelling on the part of the hand that is affected. You may also notice a red rash that seems patchy and bumpy or you may have dry skin.5

Other symptoms of an allergic reaction on your skin can include any of the following:

  • Tightness of the hand due to swelling
  • Sore blisters on your palms or dorsum part of the hand
  • Itchy fingertips

Dry skin

Dry skin is a common dermatologic condition of the hands that can cause an extreme itchiness in one of your hands.

According to dermatologist Dr. Yvette A. Tivoli, dry skin is both a symptom of a skin condition and a common source of intense hand pruritus. In many cases, cold air, lack of humidity, or over washing of hands can cause itchy hands. This often affects the skin on the joints of your fingers on the palm side (flexor surface).1

One of the best home remedies for dry skin is to rub a little coconut oil into the itchy patch of the skin.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that often results in cracked itchy skin on your palms (called palmar-plantar psoriasis).

Researchers found that many patients who suffer from psoriasis say that it commonly affects the palms of their hands and also causes cracking on the soles of their feet. The most common dermatological complaint is mild to severe itching along with dry, scaling skin. Many psoriasis suffers also say that their itchy flare-ups are often connected to stress.6

Dermatologists also report that hand psoriasis can cause a lot of emotional embarrassment and stigmatization. Patches of itchy scaly skin on the backs of the hands can cause emotional distress because it is difficult to cover the lesions.7

Apart from itchy palms and hands, other symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • Thickened skin on the palms that may crack and bleed
  • Red scaly plaques that itch
  • Bacterial skin infection due to excessive scratching

Please read my article to find out how to soothe the discomfort that psoriasis causes. You may want to check with your doctor to see if taking vitamin D can help your psoriasis symptoms.

Hand eczema

Itchy bumps on the back of your hand that weep and crust over could be a symptom of hand eczema. Eczema describes various skin conditions that result in itchy skin with elevated red patches.

Doctors from the American Academy of Dermatology report that itchy hands and itchy feet are common symptoms of eczema. Coming into contact with irritants, allergic reactions, or having asthma can cause skin irritation. Doctors say that symptoms of hand eczema are the following:8

  • Inflamed, scaly skin on your wrists, palms or back of your hands that may itch terribly
  • Burning sensation in your palms
  • Skin that thickens, cracks, and may bleed
  • Patches or reddened or brown irritated skin

If you suffer from eczema, you can find more information about treatment options in my articles about 13 natural remedies for eczema and the top 12 essential oils for eczema.

Contact dermatitis

Having a rash on the palm of your left hand that is very itchy could be caused by contact dermatitis, which is a form of eczema.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common reason for contact dermatitis on the hands is coming into contact with irritants. Depending on how the irritants affect your skin, you may suffer mild to debilitating itching. Researchers from WHO say that itchy fingers, palms, or hands often result from excessive hand hygiene. This could be caused by using harsh soaps or cleaning hands with alcohol-based cleansers.9

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Scientists from Sweden also reported that a cause of cracked skin between the fingers along with excessive itching could be due to wearing latex gloves. This is a major cause of hand itching, dry skin, and fissures on the palms among medical personnel.10

Stress and anxiety

Tingling and itchiness in your palms or on back of your hand or forearm could be related to feelings of stress and anxiety.

The effects of stress on your body have been well-documented and it seems that emotional stress can cause your hand to itch. Scientists from the Temple University Health System reported that stress-related skin complaints are common among college students. It was found that incidents of itchy hands along with an itchy rash increased around the time of exams.28

According to research published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, anxiety and depression often cause nervous itching. It was found that chronic itching and scratching is common among people with anxiety disorders. This has been termed as “psychosomatic pruritus.” Chronic itchy hand conditions can lead to more emotional distress which affects the quality of life.11

For practical ways of dealing with anxiety better, please read my article on how to relieve anxiety and stress naturally. You can also try these essential oils to relieve stress and anxiety.

Scabies

Intense hand itching and itching between your fingers that is worse at night could be a sign that you have scabies. Scabies is a mite infection where microscopic bugs found under your skin cause an extremely itchy rash.

Scabies is spread by close physical contact where scabies mites are living and is not a sign of unhygienic conditions. The journal BMJ reports that scabies often affect the areas between the fingers and the wrists. The result is an unbearable and unrelenting itch. Because scabies mites are more active at night, you may even wake up with tormenting hand and wrist itching.12

Dermatologists also report that bed bugs can cause small itchy bumps on your hands or other areas of your body.13 Other insect bites like mosquito bites, ant bites, or bee stings can cause your hand to swell up and become very itchy.

For ways to get rid of scabies, please see my article on the best home remedies for scabies.

Sunburn

Tight itchy skin on your left hand or both hands could be a consequence of sunburn as the skin heals.

According to the journal Australian Prescriber, sunburn can damage the outer layers of the skin. Overexposure to the sun can cause blistering, pain, and skin that feels warm to touch. As the skin heals, you may find that it becomes very itchy and sensitive. It is important to avoid scratching the affected area as this could cause a secondary skin infection.14

Please read my article to find out how to get rid of sunburn quicker.

Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal skin infection that can cause an itchy red patch of skin on your hands.

Dermatologists report that hand ringworm (tinea manuum) often just affects one hand. This causes mild itching of the affected hand along with dry skin, peeling, and possible skin discoloration. Some types of fungi that cause ringworm may cause more intense itchiness of the palms and fingers along with a blistering rash.15

In my article about causes of hand fungus you can also find natural treatments you can try at home.

Other Causes of Left Arm Itching

There are some other less-common reasons why your left arm could itch.

Diabetes peripheral neuropathy

One of the ways that diabetes can cause itchiness in your arm and hand is due to nerve damage.

Researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases report that diabetes-related nerve damage can cause tingling, itchiness, numbness, and pain in your arms, hands, and feet.16

Stroke

Severe itching of your left arm and hand could be a complication suffered after a stroke.

The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported that one-sided itching can occur on the side of the body affected by the stroke.17

Side effect of medication

Dr. William Blahd on WebMD reports that itchy red blisters, a skin rash, and hives could be a side effect of some medications.18

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Age

Elderly people are more likely to suffer from a chronic urge to scratch their skin. The journal Pharmacy and Therapeutics reports that acute and chronic itching affect many people over the age of 70. The itchy skin condition is usually a result of a decline in skin function and vitamin D deficiency. Doctors report that this can greatly affect the quality of life and result in sleep disorders.19

Itchy Palm on Left Hand

Conditions like eczema and psoriasis may only affect the palm of your left hand and cause intense itching. However, there are a few non-dermatologic conditions that can cause an itchy left palm.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Tingling or itching in your fingers or palm of your left hand could be a result of a pressed nerve in your left wrist.

Doctors from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke report that carpal tunnel syndrome affects the median nerve in your hand. Problems with your hand nerves can cause itching and numbness in the thumb, index, or middle finger. This can give the sensation of swollen hands even though no swelling is present.20

Primary biliary cirrhosis

Intense itching in both your hands and feet may be a symptom that your liver isn’t working properly.

A serious liver disease can cause a condition called primary biliary cirrhosis which is when inflammation affects your bile ducts. Dr. John M. Vierling on eMedicineHealth reports that the first symptom of primary biliary cirrhosis is itching in the palms of hands and soles of the feet. As the disease progresses, itching over your whole body may occur.29

Primary biliary cirrhosis may also be a complication of gallbladder removal. Please read my article on the habits to avoid if you want to care for the health of your liver.

Left-Hand Itching at Night

Right-hand itching or left-hand itching that only occurs at night is usually caused by scabies mites or bed bugs. Usually, you will know if the nighttime hand itching is caused by bug because you will have small red itchy bumps or a rash.

What else can it mean if your left hand itches only at night?

Irritation from bedding

If you think that your hand is itchy during the night for no reason at all, it could be due to contact dermatitis caused by your bedding. Researchers have discovered that laundering bedding in certain detergents could cause itching while sleeping if a person has a reaction.19

Itchy Left Hand – Females Only

There are some reasons that only affect women and can cause itchy upper arms or hands.

Pregnancy

Mild itching during pregnancy is common among many women and is generally nothing to worry about. Doctors from the American Pregnancy Association say that increased blood flow to the skin can result in some itching. It’s also not uncommon for pregnant women to experience mild ankle and hand swelling.

However, severe itching could indicate a more serious complication of pregnancy. Doctors say that a liver condition called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy can cause itching because of problems with the biliary system. This often starts off as itching of the hands and feet before affecting the whole body.21

Other symptoms of cholestasis of pregnancy can include:

Premenstrual syndrome

Some women experience itchy hands during their menstrual cycle because of certain conditions associated with premenstrual syndrome.

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Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine report that premenstrual dysphoric disorder (a severe form of PMS) can cause skin inflammation that itches.22

Itchy Bumps on Arms

Itchy patches of skin on your arm that are accompanied by raised red bumps are often a result of an adverse skin reaction to an allergen or bug bite. However, some types of infected bumps, such as foliculitis, can become itchy and affect your arm, forearm, backs of your hands, or palms.

Folliculitis

A reason for itchy bumps on your arm or back of your hand that resemble acne is a skin condition called folliculitis.

Dr. Stephanie S. Gardner, a specialist in dermatology, reports that folliculitis is infected hair follicles. The skin infection causes small, pus-filled bumps to appear that can be itchy and cause a lot of discomfort. The patches of small red bumps can be tender and painful.23

Because folliculitis only affects the area of the skin where hair grows, it cannot be a cause of an itchy rash on the palms of your hands.

Treatment for Itchy Left Hand

What can you do to stop your hand swelling and itching like crazy? In many cases, it’s important to address the underlying reason for itchy bumps on hands and arms. However, there are a few universal home remedies that can help to relieve left-hand itching.

Cold compress

Placing a cold compress on your itchy hand is an effective natural remedy for itchiness caused by eczema, psoriasis, allergic reactions, bug bites, or nerve irritation. The cold temperature helps to calm inflammatory responses and ease the intense urge to scratch the itch.

For example, Dr. Stephanie S. Gardner on WebMD says that a cold compress quickly relieves an itch that drives you mad which has been caused by eczema and psoriasis.23 Also, doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that a cold pack is an effective home remedy for insect bite itching and swelling.24

How to use a cold compress to get rid of left-hand itching:

  1. Make an ice pack by placing crushed ice in a sealable plastic back or using a bag of frozen vegetables.
  2. Wrap the cold pack in a soft towel.
  3. Hold on the itchy area on the palm of your hand or back of your hand to help soothe itchiness.
  4. Hold for up to 15 minutes for best results.
  5. Repeat every 1 or 2 hours until the itching has gone and your hand is no longer irritated.

Oatmeal

Placing an oatmeal paste on your hand can help to ease the persistent itch on your hand and also moisturize your hand at the same time.

Because of its natural anti-inflammatory and emollient properties, oatmeal makes the perfect anti-itch home remedy. The Journal of Drugs and Dermatology reports that oatmeal can help relieve itchy skin conditions that are associated with dry, irritated skin. In fact, a natural oatmeal preparation also provides a protective layer for the skin.25

How to use oatmeal for itchy hands:

  1. Grind ½ cup of uncooked oatmeal in a food processor to form a powder.
  2. Apply enough cold milk or water to form a fine, thick paste.
  3. Apply the oatmeal to the back of your hands, fingers, or palms – depending on which part of your hand itches.
  4. Leave the remedy for 15 minutes to help reduce inflammation and itching.
  5. Rinse off with cool water.
  6. Repeat applying the oatmeal remedy 2 or 3 times a day to get relief from hand palm itching.

Aloe vera and coconut oil

Make an aloe vera and coconut oil remedy and apply to your itchy left hand 3 times a day. To find out how to make the anti-itch remedy, please read my article on the amazing benefits of aloe vera and coconut oil mixture.

This remedy is perfect for relieving hand itching that has been caused by psoriasis, eczema, scabies, dry skin, or contact dermatitis.

Natural antihistamines

Take a natural antihistamine to reduce itching and swelling that have resulted from an allergic reaction.

How to Prevent Left-Hand Itching

If your left hand is prone to itchy flare-ups, then you should try and prevent conditions that will cause an itchy rash. Dermatologist, Dr. Stephanie S. Gardner advises the following to prevent itchy skin conditions:26

  • Keep your palms and backs of your hand well-moisturized
  • Avoid washing your hands with harsh soaps or chemicals
  • Wear non-latex protective gloves if you are working with chemicals or washing dishes
  • Don’t scratch the itch so as to prevent the itchy hand rash from getting worse
  • Wear cotton gloves to prevent scratching if nighttime hand itching bothers you

When to See a Doctor

In most cases, left-hand itching is no more than an inconvenience that causes occasional discomfort. Even if you have a chronic dermatological condition, many natural remedies can help to manage the hand itching.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic advise that you should see your doctor for some symptoms that are associated with hand itching. These include:

  • Your left-hand itches for over 2 weeks despite applying home remedies for itching.
  • There seems to be no reason for sudden hand itching.
  • You can’t carry out your daily activities because of severe itching in one or both hands.
  • You have other symptoms along with hand and body itching like digestive upset, fatigue, changes in bowel habits, or yellowing of the skin.

Related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2009 Jul; 2(7): 30–36.
  2. Brain. 2006 Dec; 12(1): 3413-3420.
  3. Medscape. Hand anatomy.
  4. Ulster Med J. 2016 Sep; 85(3): 164–173.
  5. NCBI. Allergic contact dermatitis: overview.
  6. Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2009; 7: 62.
  7. J Am Acad Dermatol.2017 Apr;76(4):648-654.e2.
  8. AAD. Dry, scaly, and painful hands could be hand eczema.
  9. NCBI. Skin reactions related to hand hygiene.
  10. Contact Dermatitis.2000 Jul;43(1):4-8.
  11. Transl Psychiatry. 2018; 8: 52.
  12. BMJ. 2005 Sep 17; 331(7517): 619–622.
  13. AAD. Bedbugs: overview.
  14. Aust Prescr. 2015 Aug; 38(4): 124–127.
  15. DermNetNZ. Tinea manuum.
  16. NIDDK. Diabetic neuropathy.
  17. J Am Acad Dermatol.2002 Feb;46(2):215-7.
  18. WebMD. Skin allergies and drugs.
  19. P T. 2012 Apr; 37(4): 227-232, 236-239.
  20. NINDS. Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet.
  21. AmericanPregnancy. Cholestasis of pregnancy
  22. HopkinsMedicine. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
  23. WebMD. Don’t scratch! What to do when your eczema itches.
  24. MayoClinic. Mosquito bites: ease the itch.
  25. J Drugs Dermatol.2015 Jan;14(1):43-8.
  26. WebMD. Eczema: How to control the itch.
  27. MayoClinic. Itchy skin (pruritus).
  28. Temple University Health System. November 23, 2015.
  29. eMedicineHealth. Primary biliary cirrhosis.
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