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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Itchy Hands
October 2000

Q. My hands have been extremely itchy, they are very warm and are swelling just a little. This is mainly the palms and between the fingers. There is no rash and I have not changed anything I use. I have not come into contact with anything different that I am aware of. What could be the possible cause and treatment for this?

A. There is a condition called 'hand dermatitis' that causes a slight swelling and occasional sweating of the palms and itchiness between the fingers. Usually, there is no red rash but there are tiny -very tiny- bumps or water blisters. This condition is difficult to treat and usually lasts quite a long time, but can oftentimes be controlled with very powerful (prescription strength) steroid creams.

There is also the possibility that this could be caused by medications or something that you are eating, and this is particularly likely if you see fluctuations in the symptoms. If so, you might try keeping a diary to see if you can find anything correlated with your symptoms.

This kind of problem is often very difficult to treat. If your primary care provider has done everything that he or she can do for you, you might seek the attention of a dermatologist.

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