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What Are the Signs of an Allergic Reaction on the Hands?

By Madeleine A.
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Signs of an allergic reaction on the hands include itching, redness and peeling skin. Skin allergies that affect the hands include those caused by laundry detergents, hand lotions, soaps, and nail polishes. In addition, an allergic reaction on the hands can be caused by certain metals in jewelry, and this type of reaction may cause a discoloration of the skin, small bumps and intense itching. This type of reaction is sometimes experienced by those who have an allergy to the metal nickel.

Treatment for an allergic reaction on the hands includes using an over-the-counter oral antihistamine, antihistamine gel, or antihistamine lotion, all of which are effective at treating itching and inflammation. Although the oral form and topical form of an antihistamine typically work equally well in relieving symptoms of an allergic reaction on the hands, the oral form may produce significant side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and dizziness.

When an allergic reaction on the hands becomes frequent, the physician should be notified. A thorough medical history will be taken and a physical examination will also be done. If the primary physician is unable to determine the cause of the reactions, he may refer the patient to a dermatologist or allergist who can further pursue the evaluation to determine the underlying cause. Sometimes, an allergist will recommend a series of weekly allergy shots in these cases.

Products that contain heavy perfumes or dyes may contribute to an allergic reaction on the hands. People who are sensitive to these products may want to consider using only fragrance-free or hypoallergenic products to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. Sometimes, even in the absence of allergens, an allergic-like reaction can occur. One of the most common causes of this phenomenon is exposure to extremes in temperatures. Sometimes, when the hands are exposed to cold or heat, they will redden and itch. These effects are generally temporary and the skin will revert back to normal after temperature extremes abate.

Oatmeal baths can be effective treatments for allergic reactions to the hands and other areas of the skin. Mixing a cup of regular oatmeal into a bath of warm water can significantly improve symptoms of dryness and itching. Commercial oatmeal bath preparations can also be purchased for use in the bathtub, which might appeal to people who don't want to bathe with regular, food-grade oatmeal.

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