Itchy hands at night may be the result of several different skin conditions, some of which can seem worse in the evening or when you're trying to sleep. These conditions range from skin that is simply dry due to weather or conditions in your home to more serious problems that require medical treatment, such as eczema and scabies. If you pay attention to changes in your skin and any other medical symptoms, you and your physician should be able to arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is more common among babies and children than adults, though it can affect anyone 1. It is marked by dry, itchy skin that can often form a red rash 3. It's often worse at night, and scratching the itch can make the rash worse. Another source of itchy hands is scabies, a condition in which tiny mites burrow under the skin to lay their eggs. The most common areas for scabies are the hands and feet, and in particular the wrist. Older adults can be particularly vulnerable to dermatofibromas, red or brown bumps caused by accumulation of soft-tissue cells under the skin.
Itchy hands can also be the result of dry skin caused by a decrease in humidity. Overheating in the winter or excessive air conditioning in the summer can leave the entire body drier, but it can be most noticeable and annoying on the hands and in between the fingers. A sudden change, going from the outside with normal humidity, to the indoors where the humidity has been significantly reduced, can trigger an itchy feeling in the hands.
Many skin problems, such as eczema and scabies, can be treated with a topical medication prescribed by a doctor. It's important to follow the doctor's advice and read the label on the medication. Scabies medications, for example, should not be washed off for 8 to 12 hours, which is why children are often treated before going to bed. Dermatofibromas can be treated surgically to have the itchy bumps removed.
If the problem is eczema and you have a rash flare-up, try to avoid scratching, which can make the rash worse. You may want to cover the area with a bandage to keep the rash protected until it subsides. Other prevention advice includes avoiding harsh soaps and detergents, bathing in warm water and not hot water, and avoiding known flare-up triggers, such as dander.
To avoid dry, itchy hands in general, you may use a moisturizer immediately after getting out of the bath to reduce moisture loss. Shorter showers and setting your home thermostat at a comfortable level allow for healthy levels of humidity.
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