Itchy fingers can range from a mild annoyance to a maddening condition that consumes you with a search for relief. While they’re sometimes just a sign of dry hands, they can also be a symptom of an underlying condition that needs treatment.
Read on to learn more about what may be causing your fingers to itch, when it might be a sign of something more serious, and how you can get some relief.
Dyshidrotic eczema is a skin condition that causes tiny blisters, usually on your palm or the outsides of your fingers. The blisters are often very itchy and may be filled with fluid. They can also appear on your feet and between your toes.
Other symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema include:
- scaly or cracked skin
- pain near blisters
The exact cause of dyshidrotic eczema isn’t known, but it seems to be related to seasonal allergies and stress. People who have skin allergies to certain substances, such as nickel or cobalt, also seem more prone to it. According to the National Eczema Association, dyshidrotic eczema is twice as common in women as men.
While there’s no cure for dyshidrotic eczema, the blisters usually begin to dry out after about three weeks. In the meantime, you can find relief by:
- soaking your hands in cold water or applying a cold compress two to four times a day
- using a prescription steroid cream
- using an anesthetic cream, such as pramoxine (Pramocaine)
- keeping your hands moisturized
- using only very mild soap to wash your hands
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the rapid buildup of skin cells. This results in scaly, raised patches on your skin’s surface. While psoriasis most frequently affects joints, such as the elbows and knees, it can also affect your fingers and nails.
There are several types of psoriasis, but common symptoms among all of them include:
- inflamed patches of skin
- silver-white scales on skin
- dry skin that may crack and bleed
- soreness around inflamed patches
- itching and burning sensations around patches
It’s often hard to get rid of psoriasis, and you may need to try a few different methods before finding the right one for you.
Common treatments include:
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
If you have diabetes, the tingling or itching in your hands could be due to peripheral neuropathy, a common complication of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It’s a type of nerve damage caused by uncontrolled high blood sugar levels, and it affects your hands and feet.
Other symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy include:
- sensitivity to touch
- loss of sense of touch
- numbness or pain in your fingers
- weakness in fingers
There’s no cure for diabetic peripheral neuropathy, but there are several options for slowing its progress and relieving symptoms. These include:
Contact dermatitis (sometimes called contact eczema) happens when your skin comes into contact with an irritant. Common irritants include certain metals, fragrances, and common ingredients in personal care products. It’s common to notice contact dermatitis on your hands since they interact with so many different things throughout the day.
Symptoms of contact dermatitis include:
It can take some time to narrow down what’s causing contact dermatitis, but keeping a log of any products you use and noting any symptoms you have can help. In the meantime, you may be able to find itch relief with:
- topical corticosteroids
Scabies is a highly contagious condition. It’s caused by very small mites that burrow into your skin and lay eggs. This commonly happens in the skin between your fingers.
The main symptom of scabies is the appearance of small, very itchy bumps. Other common symptoms of scabies include:
- small blisters or pus-filled bumps
- itching that’s worse at night or after bathing
- thick, scaly skin
Most cases of scabies are spread through skin-to-skin contact or the sharing of clothing, bedding, or towels. The main treatments for scabies are medicated lotions and oral medications that kill the mites. In some cases, you may need a few rounds of treatment. You can also try home remedies, though you may need medical treatment if your symptoms don’t go away.
Tips for healthy fingers
Regardless of what’s making your fingers itch, there are a few steps you can take to find relief until you’re able to treat the underlying cause.
- using mild, unscented soaps and lotions
- drinking plenty of water to keep your body and skin hydrated
- wearing gloves when dealing with common irritants
- wearing gloves in dry, cold weather
- thoroughly drying your hands after washing (but avoid hand dryers that blow hot air, which can further irritate your skin)
The bottom line
If you have itchy fingers but no other symptoms, you may just need to moisturize your hands. However, if it doesn’t go away, it’s likely due to an underlying condition that affects your skin or nerves. Keep track of anything that seems to make the itching worse, and work with your doctor to narrow down the cause. Not all causes of itchy fingers can be cured, but in most cases, there are several options for itch relief.