As with any part of the body surface, a skin rash may occur on the palm. In fact the palm is a commonly affected site as is the entire hand. Since the hand makes contact with the environment throughout the day, is repeatedly washed and comes into contact with others, it faces repeated insults which can result in a rash. At other times a skin rash on the palm may be due to skin diseases that could affect any part of the body.
What is a palm rash?
A palm rash is any skin lesion on the inside part of the hand. Rashes are a broad term used to describe abnormalities of the skin including dryness, roughness, peeling, redness, swelling and fluid-filled vesicles or pustules. Itching may or may not be present. Sometimes itching and irritation of the skin may be transient, lasts only a few minutes or hours and resolves. The cause may not always be identified in these cases.
Causes of Palm Rash
Rashes occur for a number of different reasons, from injury and infection to allergies and autoimmune diseases. Some of these rashes will specifically occur on the hands or palms for specific reasons, like when the skin in these areas make contact with an irritant or allergen. At other times a rash on the palm may occur as part of a widespread skin rash affecting various parts of the body simultaneously.
Skin dryness is a common problem that can affect the palms. It is worse in people who may come into contact with substances that cause excessive dryness and in climates where the air is dry. Although dryness can be easily relieved with moisturizers and proper protection, it can progress to the cracking and peeling. Scratching further worsens it as the skin is damaged and therefore cannot retain its natural moisture.
Injury to the palm is not uncommon. It can arise with physical, chemical or electromagnetic trauma. A laceration (cut), contusion or burn are some of the more common physical injuries. Exposure to toxic chemicals like pool acid are more likely chemical injuries. Electromagnetic injury is uncommon. Th severity of the injury depends on the nature of the trauma, duration and intensity. Usually there is pain along with a red rash at the affected site.
Contact dermatitis is one of the most common types of skin rash, especially on the hands. It occurs when the skin comes into contact with substances that either irritates the skin or triggers an allergic reaction. The hands are commonly affected especially among people who are repeatedly exposed to chemicals and various other substances. Even water, soap and perspiration can be irritants.
A common type of contact dermatitis affecting the hands is known as dishpan hands. The repeated exposure to detergents and water, especially if there is inadequate drying of the hands, can lead to a rash. It is usually due to irritant contact dermatitis. Certain chemicals, metals and substances like latex are more likely to cause allergic contact dermatitis but only in people who are hypersensitive.
Atopic dermatitis is another common skin condition mainly seen in children. It is also commonly referred to as eczema although this is a broad term that refers to many different types of skin rashes. Atopic dermatitis occurs in children who have a disposition of a hypersensitive immune system. It may occur along with allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis. The skin is dry, cracked, itchy, red and swollen. The skin folds are more commonly affected.
Dyshidrotic dermatitis is a skin condition where ting blisters form on the skin, specifically on the hands and feet. The exact cause is unknown but it appears to be linked to prolonged fungal infections of the feet, drug hypersensitivity, allergies and emotional stress. The rash is typically itching and excessive scratching can cause these tiny blisters to burst and ooze a clear discharge.
Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection. It usually arises with a break in the skin and entry of the bacteria into the underlying tissue. These infections can be severe and need prompt treatment. Red sores form on the skin and eventually bursts to form a yellow crust. The infection can extend deeper into the tissue and then spread more rapidly along the arm or even beyond.
A ringworm infection of the hand occurs when fungi infect the skin. These infections are usually superficial. The specific type of fungi that infects skin is known as dermatophytes. It typically forms a red ring-like lesion hence the term ringworm. The rash is red and itchy and the center of the lesion may have normal skin. The medical term for a ringworm infection of the hand is tinea manuum.
A certain type of fungal infection that specifically affects the palm and soles is known as tinea nigra. It is an uncommon fungal infection. With tinea nigra the affected skin becomes dark brown to black in color. Some of the typical symptoms like redness and swelling are not present. Tinea nigra is a benign condition and usually does not present beyond the primary area of infection.
Other Skin Rashes on the Palm
- Insect bites or stings
- Scarlet fever
- Kawasaki disease
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
Treatment for Palm Rash
The treatment of a palm rash depends on the underlying cause and type of skin condition. Some rashes may not require any treatment and will simply resolve on its own. Treatment may include topical applications and/or oral medication. Some of the applications and medication used includes:
- Emollients to moisturize the skin and relieve dryness.
- Barrier cream to protect the skin and prevent dehydration.
- Antibacterial applications for bacterial infections or antifungal applications for fungal infections.
- Antihistamines to reduce allergic reactions and relieve itching.
- Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and suppress immune activity.
Always consult with a doctor. Although a palm rash may seem like a minor condition, it can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious and even life-threatening condition. Some skin conditions as well as can progress rapidly and become severe if not diagnosed and treated promptly.
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