A rash on your limbs can result from a bacterial or fungal infection. It may also occur due to a health condition or medication. You may also experience other symptoms, including itchiness.
Rashes are earmarked by a change in the color and texture of your skin. They may have blisters, and they may itch or hurt. Rashes that break out on your hands and feet have a wide range of underlying causes.
We’ll explore some of the common conditions that cause rashes to occur on the hands and feet. We’ll also look at treatment options you can try at home, or under a doctor’s care.
|Common causes of rashes on the hands and feet||Overview|
|hand, foot, and mouth disease||contagious infection caused by several viruses, including the coxsackie virus|
|granuloma annulare||chronic, degenerative skin condition with an unknown cause|
|dyshidrotic eczema (dyshidrosis, pompholyx)||itchy, common form of eczema|
|impetigo||contagious, bacterial skin infection|
|hand-foot syndrome (acral erythema or palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia)||side effect of certain chemotherapy drugs|
|athlete’s foot||contagious fungal infection|
Rashes on the hands and feet can be caused by environmental factors, such as irritants or allergens. They may also be the result of medical conditions or infections.
Some common causes of rashes on hands and feet include:
Hand, foot, and mouth disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a contagious infection caused by several viruses, including the coxsackie virus. Anyone can get hand, foot, and mouth disease, although it most commonly occurs in babies and children.
This condition causes a rash on the hands and feet, as well as sores in the mouth and on the tongue. You may experience fever and a sore throat with this condition.
The hand and foot rash caused by this condition sometimes causes blistering to occur, and may be painful, but not itchy. In some instances, it may appear on the buttocks, as well.
Granuloma annulare is a chronic, degenerative skin condition with an unknown cause. There are five recognized types:
- localized granuloma annulare
- generalized or disseminated granuloma annulare
- subcutaneous granuloma annulare
- perforating granuloma annulare
- linear granuloma
The most common type, localized granuloma annulare, causes rings of flesh-toned, red, or yellow nodules to form on the feet, hands and fingers.
These nodules are small and hard, but do not typically itch. The rings usually clear up on their own without treatment, within a few months to two years. They may, however, come back.
Granuloma annulare is more common in women than in men, and tends to occur during young adulthood.
Dyshidrotic eczema (dyshidrosis, pompholyx)
This very itchy, common form of eczema causes deep-set blisters on the palms of hands, edges of fingers, soles and sides of feet, and toes. The blisters can become large and painful, and may last for several weeks.
Dyshidrotic eczema outbreaks often coincide with seasonal allergies, during spring and summer. It’s more common in women than in men. This condition is not curable, but its symptoms can be successfully treated. It’s not contagious.
This very contagious, bacterial skin infection begins with an oozing rash of red sores around the mouth and nose that can be spread to the hands and feet via touch. When the sores burst, they develop brownish-yellow crusts.
The rash can be itchy, and painful. Impetigo most commonly occurs in infants and children. Itching and soreness are other symptoms.
Hand-foot syndrome (acral erythema or palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia)
This condition is a side effect of certain chemotherapy drugs used for cancer treatment. It’s earmarked by pain, swelling, and redness in either or both the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It can also cause tingling, burning, and blisters. In severe cases, deeply cracked skin and extreme pain may occur.
Athlete’s foot is caused by a contagious fungal infection. It usually starts between the toes, and spreads to the entire foot. This condition is earmarked by a scaly, red rash that itches.
In some instances, athlete’s foot can spread to the hands. This is more likely to happen if you pick at or scratch the rash on your feet.
Athlete’s foot is caused by keeping very sweaty feet trapped in shoes. It can also be transmitted on locker room and shower floors.
Many hand and foot rashes can be treated at home, but some require medical treatment, based on their underlying cause and severity.
There are a number of over-the-counter and at-home rash treatments that may help alleviate itching and pain, plus reduce the appearance of the rash. You may have the best success by combining several.
Home treatments include:
- topical application of over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream
- topical application of anti-itch medications containing pramoxine
- topical application of lidocaine, or other types of pain medication
- cold compresses
- oral antihistamines
- oral pain medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- cool oatmeal baths
- applying unscented moisturizing cream
- avoiding triggers, such as pollen
If you have dyshidrotic eczema: Avoid cobalt and nickel in food and in everyday items. Foods that contain cobalt include clams, fish, and leafy green vegetables. Foods that contain nickel include chocolate, soy beans, and oatmeal.
If you have impetigo: Cleaning and soaking the blisters and removing the crusts every few days may help. Cover the area with an antibiotic cream and loose dressing after treating.
If your rash does not clear up, your doctor may recommend the following:
- corticosteroid injections
- liquid nitrogen, applied directly to the rash to freeze the area and remove lesions
- oral medication to reduce immune system reactions
- light therapy using a laser
- blister draining
- antibiotics, if infection occurs
Any rash that’s painful, accompanied by fever, or looks infected should be seen by a doctor. You should also seek medical attention for a rash that doesn’t clear up easily with treatments you use at home.
Your doctor may be able to diagnose the rash visually after taking an oral history. In some instances, you may also expect diagnostic tests, such as:
If your child has a rash that does not clear up within one or two days, they should be seen by their pediatrician. This will help determine the cause of the rash, and provide relief for their symptoms.
If your child has sores in their mouth or throat that prohibit them from drinking, they should also be seen by their doctor, to avoid complications such as dehydration.
Since conditions such as hand, foot, and mouth disease and impetigo are contagious, make sure to wash your hands after caring for your child.
If you’re a cancer patient experiencing hand-foot syndrome, let your doctor know. Your doctor may be able to change the dosage or type of medication you’re taking.
Rashes on the hands and feet can be caused by a wide range of conditions. These types of rashes sometimes clear up on their own, or they are treated easily at home.
Depending on their underlying conditions, some rashes will respond better to treatments performed or prescribed by a doctor. See your healthcare provider for any rash that’s accompanied by fever or pain.