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.
- Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is more common among babies and children than adults, though it can affect anyone 1.
- Older adults can be particularly vulnerable to dermatofibromas, red or brown bumps caused by accumulation of soft-tissue cells under the skin.
Extremely Dry Hands
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.
- Itchy hands can also be the result of dry skin caused by a decrease in humidity.
- 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.
- Many skin problems, such as eczema and scabies, can be treated with a topical medication prescribed by a doctor.
Itchy Skin Between the Toes
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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- Annals of Dermatology: Atopic Dermatitis
- American Family Physician: Pediculosis and Scabies -- A Treatment Update
- American Family Physician: What Can I Do for Dry, Itchy Skin?
- Micali G, Lacarrubba F, Verzì AE, Chosidow O, Schwartz RA. Scabies: Advances in Noninvasive Diagnosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016;10(6):e0004691. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0004691
- Chandler DJ, Fuller LC. A Review of Scabies: An Infestation More than Skin Deep. Dermatology (Basel). 2019;235(2):79-90. doi:10.1159/000495290
- Su WJ, Fang S, Chen AJ, Shan K. A case of crusted scabies combined with bullous scabies. Exp Ther Med. 2015;10(4):1533-1535. doi:10.3892/etm.2015.2668
- Crusted scabies. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Published June 17, 2019.
- Mccarthy JS, Kemp DJ, Walton SF, Currie BJ. Scabies: more than just an irritation. Postgrad Med J. 2004;80(945):382-7. doi:10.1136/pgmj.2003.014563
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Scabies—Resource for Health Professionals." Atlanta, Georgia; updated March 21, 2017.
- Stiff KM, Cohen PR. Scabies Surrepticius: Scabies Masquerading as Pityriasis Rosea. Cureus. 2017 Dec 19;9(12):e1961. doi: 10.7759/cureus.1961.
James Roland started writing professionally in 1987. A former reporter and editor with the "Sarasota Herald-Tribune," he currently oversees such publications as the "Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor" and UCLA's "Healthy Years." Roland earned his Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Oregon.