Red palms are also known as palmar erythema in the medical literature. This condition can be caused by various medical problems, each having its own range of severity. In a lot of patients, red palms have no identifiable cause and they are presented under primary palmar erythema. However, there are many cases in which the red palms are a symptom of another disease, being presented as secondary palmar erythema.
It is important to contact the doctor if you have noticed that your palms have gotten red, as this can be an early sign of an underlying medical condition. As specialists tell us, it seems that palms are directly related to the proper functioning of the circulatory system, the hormonal system and especially the thyroid. So, when you have red palms, this can be a symptom of another disease and you need to see a doctor.
Symptoms of Red Palms
These are the most common symptoms associated with red palms:
- The palms have a reddish tinge
- The area of the palm most affected is the hypothenar eminence
- Can also appear on the thenar eminence and the fingers
- Can be accompanied by red soles (plantar erythema)
- The skin in the affected areas can be warm to the touch
- No itchiness, scaling or pain
Possible Causes of Red Palms
These are the most common causes that lead to the appearance of red palms:
- Pregnancy – one of the most encountered causes of red palms; during pregnancy, the estrogen levels increase and the circulatory system also goes through a change.
- Heredity (role in the onset of red palms but has only been identified in rare cases)
- Idiopathic (unknown cause, no identified triggers)
- Liver disease – hepatitis, hereditary liver disease (Wilson’s disease, hereditary haemochromatosis), cirrhosis. In chronic liver disease, the estrogen and or the oestradiol present abnormal levels. Moreover, it seems that there is a dysfunction in the arteriovenous anastomoses.
- Problems with the adrenal glands
- Cancer – leukemia, brain cancer, metastases, liver cancer, ovarian cancer. A growing tumor will always cause the estrogen levels to rise, causing red palms to appear among other symptoms.
- Thyroid problems – thyrotoxicosis, hyperthyroidism. The patients present an increased level of estradiol, leading to their palms becoming red.
- Circulatory problems – polycythemia vera
- Shoulder-hand syndrome – this is also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy. It affects the upper extremities of the body and it is accompanied by pain and rigidity in the shoulder, hand and fingers. Red palms accompany this syndrome as well.
- Rheumatological disease – lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis. The exact link between rheumatoid arthritis and red palms has not been identified yet but this symptom appears in almost 60% of the patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Diabetes mellitus – patients describe their palms as being hot and red. In some patients, the palms might not be entirely red, but rather present red spots.
- Certain medication – amiodarone (antiarrhythmic agent), gemfibrozil (oral drug used for the reduction of lipid levels), cholestyramine (bile acid sequestrant), topiramate (anticonvulsant), albuterol (anti-asthma medication, recommended for bronchospasms).
- Smoking – prolonged smoking can lead to circulatory problems, including in the hands area, hence the red palms.
- Chronic mercury intoxication – it is a well-known fact that the chronic poisoning with mercury leads to the appearance of neurological and cutaneous symptoms. Among those symptoms, you will find the red palms.
- Oral contraceptives (high levels of estrogen) – as with pregnancy, the high levels of estrogen lead to the appearance of red palms in women.
- Alcohol abuse – prolonged and excessive alcohol drinking has a negative effect on the health of the liver, leading to abnormal levels of estrogen and oestradiol. It is the same mechanism as in the case of liver disease.
- Sarcoidosis – this is a multi-systemic inflammatory disease, accompanied by a wide range of symptoms, including red palms.
- Gestational syphilis – getting infected with the syphilis virus during pregnancy can lead to red palms, among other symptoms.
- Myelopathy – this is a degenerative condition that leads to the pinching of the spinal cord and circulatory problems, with red palms included.
At the present, there is no specific treatment for red palms and often times this symptom disappears when the primary cause is correctly identified and treated. However, you must remember that red palms can appear without any identified cause or medical history as well. If there are no other medical conditions associated with the red palms, then the condition might disappear on its own.
Pictures of Red Palms
Here are some of the pictures of red palms and fingers…