Everybody experiences itching of the skin at some time or another. Itchy skin can occur in any region of the body. In the vast majority of cases, a skin itch is only a temporary discomfort that resolves quickly upon light scratching. In some cases, however, an itchy skin may persist and even worsen with time.
These cases are mostly caused by some sort of skin infection or disease. The itching of skin in such cases may or may not be accompanied by a skin rash. The skin on the wrists is as likely to itch as the skin in any other region of the body. Itchy wrists may also be accompanied by itchy hands and palms.
Read more on itchy hands.
Causes of Itchy Wrists
The causes of an itchy skin in most parts of the body are similar. Therefore, itchy wrists may occur due to the same reasons as itchy skin elsewhere on the body. In many cases, an itchy wrist may be accompanied by itching on the skin beyond the wrist as well. However, in some cases, itchy wrists may be caused due to some unique factors that are pertinent only to the skin on the wrist. In such cases, itching is typically restricted to the wrist area.
Irritation or allergy caused by textiles is a common cause of itchy wrists. Itching caused by skin contact with textile material can occur in any part of the body. However, regions that have skin folds (such as the wrist and neck) are relatively more prone to adverse reaction caused by constant contact with clothing material. The cuffs of sweaters and shirts can frequently cause irritation of the skin on the wrist. The skin on other areas may or may not be affected.
Accessories worn on the wrist could also cause irritation and itching on the skin of the wrist. In some cases, the itching could be due to an allergic reaction of the skin to some material contained in the accessory. Such allergic reactions, referred to as allergic contact dermatitis, do not occur in all individuals. Only certain individuals who are sensitive to the material contained in the wrist accessory get the allergic reaction.
In other cases, wrist accessories may cause itching due to skin irritation rather than an allergic reaction. For example, wearing a tight watch or a bracelet for long periods of time may cause chaffing of the skin. Skin irritation may also occur due to sweat, dust, and water that may get trapped between the skin and the accessory.
Vigorous washing of hands can also cause itchy wrists and hands. A skin rash may also occur in some cases. In such cases, the cause could either be mechanical abrasion of the skin or irritation caused by water and soap. Many soaps contain chemicals that are added to impart fragrance or antibacterial properties. These chemicals in the soap may act as irritants or allergens. Even water present on the skin for prolonged periods can act as an irritant.
Eczema is an umbrella term that is commonly used to describe different types of skin inflammation or dermatitis. Inflammation of the skin could result from allergies or irritation of the skin caused by many different substances. Sweat, water, soaps, shampoos, clothing materials, and even water can cause skin inflammation through contact dermatitis.
A common type of dermatitis that is especially predominant in children is known as atopic dermatitis. Hypersensitivity to certain allergens that may be ingested or inhaled into the body causes atopic dermatitis. This condition may be associated with other allergic conditions such as allergic rhinitis or asthma.
Read more on hand eczema.
In the current age of intensive computer use, soreness and pain in the wrists are common occurrences. These symptoms are mostly due to compression of the median nerve that passes through the narrow tunnel formed by the bones of the wrist. Therefore, the condition is frequently referred to as the carpal tunnel syndrome.
In order to get relief from wrist soreness and pain, people apply various types of topical medications. In some sensitive individuals, application of these topical agents may cause itchy wrists. Side effects of oral medications may also result in itchy skin on the wrist and elsewhere in the body.
Since we constantly use our hands to touch and manipulate our environment, the skin on the hands is prone to coming in contact with various environmental toxins. People who work in industrial settings are more likely to handle toxic substances in their daily work. Generally, people in such settings wear protective gloves.
However, protective handwear may not be able to prevent skin contact with some toxins that may cause an adverse skin reaction. If there is a gap between the sleeves and gloves, only the skin on the wrist may get exposed to such toxins, resulting in an itchy wrist. In other cases, other areas of the hand may also get exposed to the toxins, resulting in a more widespread skin reaction.
Itchy wrists could also be caused by common fungal skin infections. Other skin areas of the hand and body are also frequently affected in fungal skin infections. In most cases, fungal skin infection of the wrist may be a continuation of a fungal skin infection of the hand (technically referred to as tinea manuum). Fungal skin infections are typically caused by a group of fungi known as the dermatophytes.
Although fungal skin infection can occur in any part of the body, areas with skin folds are especially vulnerable. The most common sites of fungal skin infections are the feet, scalp, and groin. Infections from these areas may spread to the hands and wrists during itching.
Some other causes of itchy wrists include psoriasis, peripheral neuropathy, chicken pox, hives, biliary diseases, and scabies.
Remedies for Itchy Wrists
Since itchy wrists can be caused by a variety of different conditions, it is best to get the underlying cause diagnosed and treated by a doctor. The exact treatment depends on the nature of the underlying cause. However, there are some measures that may help regardless of the underlying cause.
The following are some of the conservative measures that may prevent or provide relief from itchy wrists:
- Hands should be washed thoroughly after they come in contact with potential irritants or allergens. When handling toxic substances or irritant chemicals, protective gloves should be worn.
- Hands must be dried after washing so that residual soap or water do not irritate the skin.
- Wrist accessories should be avoided until the cause of the itching is fully treated.
- Dry skin should be moisturized by fragrance-free, hypoallergenic emollients.
- Scratching the itchy areas in case of skin infections should be avoided. Applying petroleum jelly on the affected skin areas may help in providing relief from itching.