A person might feel the itchiness on the surface of their fingers, under the skin, or only on some fingers. While most of the time itchy fingers are nothing to worry about, in some cases it may be a sign of an underlying condition that needs a doctor’s attention.
In this article, we look at the causes, symptoms, and treatment of itchy fingers. We also give tips on how to get rid of the itching.
Causes and symptoms
There are many different reasons why a person’s fingers might itch. In the list below, we discuss the common causes and their associated symptoms.
Contact dermatitis, also known as contact eczema, occurs when a person touches something that irritates their skin.
A person with contact dermatitis may also notice:
- itching across the fingers and hands
- pain or swelling
- patches of dry skin
- small, red bumps on the skin
- redness and inflammation
Because the hands and fingers come into contact with many different things over the course of the day, it may take some time to determine what is causing the allergic reaction.
People who have regular flare-ups should keep a diary of common allergens they come into contact with and their symptoms to look for a pattern.
Common triggers for contact dermatitis include:
- metal jewelry, belts, or watches
- cobalt found in hair dyes or deodorants
- some hand creams
- household disinfectants
The best way to prevent contact dermatitis is to identify and avoid the allergen.
When a person comes into contact with an allergen, they can relieve their painful, itching symptoms by using the following:
- antihistamine creams or oral over-the-counter medications
- corticosteroid creams
- phototherapy, involving exposing the skin to ultraviolet light
A person can get antihistamine creams online, and stronger versions can be obtained on prescription from a doctor. Corticosteroid creams can also be bought online or obtained on prescription.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes skin cells to quickly build up, resulting in patches of flaky, itchy, scaly skin. Psoriasis can affect different areas of a person’s body, primarily the joints, but also areas such as fingers and nails.
Along with itching skin, a person with psoriasis may also notice:
- redness and inflammation
- areas of slivery-white scaly skin
- very dry, cracked, and sometimes bleeding skin
- pain around the inflamed patches of skin
Psoriasis can be stubborn, and it is often a case of trial and error to find an effective treatment.
Possible treatments include:
- oral medications, usually prescribed by a doctor
- corticosteroid creams
- creams containing vitamin D analogs
- salicylic acid creams
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition related to diabetes. It occurs when high blood sugar levels cause nerve damage. This can affect both the hands and feet.
A person with diabetic peripheral neuropathy may notice:
- their fingers becoming sensitive to touch
- a loss of feeling or numbness in their fingers
- pain or weakness in their fingers
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy cannot be cured, though there are treatments to help relieve symptoms and to slow its progress.
To treat peripheral neuropathy, a person can try:
- lifestyle changes, such as getting regular exercise and stopping smoking
- getting their blood pressure under control
- stabilizing their blood sugar levels
- medications, for example, anticonvulsants and antidepressants
- creams containing capsaicin
Scabies occurs when tiny mites burrow into a person’s skin and lay their eggs, causing small, itchy bumps. The symptoms can appear up to 8 weeks after a person comes into contact with the scabies mite.
The mites usually burrow in areas where the skin folds, including between the fingers and toes, inner elbows and knees, and genitals.
Scabies is common and extremely contagious. It is one of the most common skin conditions in the developing world.
A person with scabies may notice:
- small blisters or pus-filled bumps appearing on the surface of the skin
- tiny burrow-marks or tracks left by the mites in the skin
- skin becoming thick and scaly
- itching that becomes worse after showering or bathing
- itching that worsens at nighttime
Scabies tends to spread through skin-to-skin contact, though sharing clothing, towels or bedding can also pass it on.
To treat scabies a person must see their doctor to get scabicide treatments that kill the mites and their eggs. Scabies can be notoriously difficult to get rid of and may need several rounds of treatment.
A person may be able to manage the symptoms of itchy fingers at home, though if the underlying cause is not known, they should consult their doctor. Diagnosing the cause is key to finding the correct treatment.
Sometimes medication is not necessary and, by making a few adjustments, a person may see a significant improvement in their symptoms.
The following steps may help, in many cases, to treat or prevent itchy fingers from occurring:
- washing the hands regularly and thoroughly with a mild soap
- making sure that hands are completely dry after washing
- soaking fingers in cool water to relieve itching
- avoiding harsh skin care products that may cause irritation
- wearing gloves when in contact with harsh chemicals, including cleaning products
- wearing gloves during cold, dry weather
- moisturizing often with hypoallergenic skin cream or lotion
Some people find that calamine lotion can be soothing for itchy skin lesions.
In more severe cases, topical medications, such as corticosteroid, antifungal, and antimicrobial creams, may be needed.
When to see a doctor
If home remedies and topical treatments are not working, a person may need to visit a doctor who can prescribe oral medication, such as antibiotics, antifungals, corticosteroids, immune suppressants, or modulators to help get rid of the condition.
While itchy fingers can be frustrating, if there are no additional symptoms, it may be that keeping them well moisturized can help to reduce or eliminate the itchiness.
If the itchiness does not go away or keeps coming back, a person should visit their doctor to rule out any underlying problems.
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