Red Skin Blotches on the Hand

The red blotches on the hand are likely caused by contact dermatitis, a form of skin inflammation resulting from direct contact with irritants or allergens 23. Your skin can begin to recognize certain substances as either an irritant or an allergen. Any exposure to this particular material elicits an adverse response in the body, causing a rash to form on the surface of the skin. To ensure you're actually dealing with this skin condition, it's best to consult with a doctor.


Besides the red blotches, it isn't uncommon to experience some level of itching along the contact site. This itching can range is severity from mild to severe. You may also begin to notice the development of bumps, blisters or sores as well as pain or tenderness isolated to the affected area of the skin.


According to the Cleveland Clinic's website, contact dermatitis typically falls within one of two categories 23. The first and most common is irritant contact dermatitis, or ICD 23. This type of dermatitis develops when the skin comes into contact with acids, solvents, soaps or other chemicals 23. For some people, repeatedly immersing the hands in any one of these substances can eventually irritate the skin to a point where red blotches develop.

The second type is allergic contact dermatitis, or ACD 23. With this type of dermatitis, your skin has an almost hypersensitivity to certain substances, like plants, metals, medications or other materials. Grabbing, touching or exposing the hands to something your skin recognizes as an allergen elicits an immune response from the body, causing antibodies to release chemicals that damage epidermal cells and leads to red blotches on the skin.

Though not as common, MedlinePlus also lists "overtreatment" dermatitis as a form of contact dermatitis 23. This skin condition is usually the result of treatment for another skin disorder, which leads to skin irritation and subsequent symptoms associated with contact dermatitis 23. Since the skin is being irritated, this condition could fall within irritant contact dermatitis 23.

Irritants and Allergens

Though the substances the skin recognizes as an irritant or an allergen varies from person to person, some are far more common than others. Irritants that pose the most problems for people include:

  • dish soaps
  • laundry detergents
  • cleaning products
  • drain cleaners
  • mold or mildew removers
  • acetone
  • ammonia
  • bleach
  • formaldehyde
  • even heat

Allergens often include poison ivy, poison oak, latex, nickel, fragrances, cosmetics, sunscreens and topical medications such as

  • antibiotics
  • anesthetics


No matter the type of contact dermatitis, identifying the problematic substance is the most important facet to treating this skin condition, advises Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine 123. You need to eliminate exposure to the irritant or allergen if you hope to get rid of the red blotches and any other associated symptoms.


After the irritant or allergen is identified, your doctor can suggest a topical medication to treat contact dermatitis 23. Hydrocortisone is the most common topical solution used in this situation. You may also benefit from an oral antihistamine or oral corticosteroid. Both are known to reduce inflammation of the skin, which should cause the red blotches to disappear.