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What Causes Itching Hands and Feet?

Laura M. Sands
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Itching hands and feet may be caused by a reaction to something in the diet or may be due to a more serious condition, such as diabetes. Vitamin toxicity may also cause itching skin in some people. Multiple factors may contribute to skin discomfort, but improper hydration and coming in contact with allergens in the environment are among the most common causes.

Itching is characterized by an irritation or disturbance on the skin, which causes one to almost instinctively rub or scratch the skin’s surface. Itching skin is annoying and may be caused by a minor or major condition. It is common, however, and is something that most people experience, to some extent, on a regular basis.

Some people experience dry skin as the result of a health condition. A few of these conditions include psoriasis, dermatitis, and diseases affecting the liver and kidney. Itching hands and feet, as well as other irritated parts of the skin, may occur with any of these conditions. Itching may also occur as the result of treating these conditions with certain medications that are known to also cause skin irritation.

Individuals allergic to certain food products may experience itching in the hands and feet after eating these foods or coming in contact with them. Other parts of the body may itch for several minutes or hours after contact with a certain food, as well. While this symptom sometimes disappears after a brief period, an allergic reaction to food may also cause hives, throat constriction and respiratory distress depending upon the nature of the food allergy.

Diabetic patients are often afflicted with this symptom. Diabetic itching is primarily due to nerve damage caused by elevated blood glucose levels. The itching sensation is often also accompanied by paresthesia and numbness, as well as pain in the hands, feet and legs.

People with a particular vitamin deficiency generally treat this condition with vitamin supplements. In excess, however, some of these can cause toxicity, which may result in itching hands and feet, as well as itching in other parts of the body. This type of reaction is especially common when too much vitamin A or vitamin K enters the bloodstream.

One of the most common causes of any itching is coming in contact with an irritant or allergen in the environment. Certain plants, chemicals and fibers may naturally cause itching when allowed to touch the skin. A few of these include grass, poison ivy, or may include household soaps and other cleaning agents.

Another very common cause is dry skin. When the skin lacks hydration, it is easily irritated and begins to itch. Moisturizing the skin’s surface is usually enough to temporarily treat the itch, but hydrating the body by drinking water, as well as eating raw fruits and vegetables is also necessary to avoid future episodes of dry skin and itching.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Laura M. Sands
By Laura M. Sands
Laura Sands, the founder of a publishing company, brings her passion for writing and her expertise in digital publishing to her work. With a background in social sciences and extensive online work experience, she crafts compelling copy and content across various platforms. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a skilled contributor to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon965018 — On Aug 08, 2014

I had a cold that started out as a sore throat and made me cough a tight high chest cough that was not very helpful in removing the phlegm then I took 100 mg of powdered acetylcysteine, three times a day for two days, and on the second day I started with the itching on hands and feet. Even though I assumed it was the medicine, it has not quite stopped yet, but since I never before had symptoms like that, I hope that was the cause. Hope it goes away soon.

By bythewell — On Oct 11, 2013

@Ana1234 - I would take a look at your diet when you get stressed to make sure you aren't changing it somehow and setting off a reaction that way. It might just be stress hormones or something, but I know that I tend to eat badly when I'm stressed and that is never good for your health.

You might be overeating something that causes a reaction, or not getting enough of a particular vitamin or something like that and that's what causes your hands and feet to itch, rather than the stress itself.

It might also be worth checking environmental factors. I have had detergents that cause a skin reaction and that reaction might be worse if you are generally feeling under the weather. You might be having a mild reaction that doesn't show up until something stresses you out.

By Ana1234 — On Oct 10, 2013

I tend to get itchy when I'm stressed out. My hands will sometimes get a rash on them and I'll occasionally get itchy feet as well.

A bit of cortisone cream helps, but generally all I can do is wait for it to pass and try to reduce stress. It's really annoying, because the last thing you want in a stressful situation is a constant itch.

By croydon — On Oct 09, 2013
People think of dog and cat hair as being an allergen, but the saliva or dander of the pets is actually the allergen, so if you are allergic and a dog licks your hands or you pet it, it might cause some itching.

People are usually more allergic to cats simply because they are always grooming themselves and their saliva gets all over their fur, which then sheds into the environment.

So if you've suddenly got itchy hands and feet, and you know that you're allergic to animals, I would check and see if you've been exposed to them somehow.

Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands
Laura Sands, the founder of a publishing company, brings her passion for writing and her expertise in digital publishing...
Learn more
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