What Causes Burning Hands and How Can You Treat It?

burning hands

How many times a day do you use your hands?

From washing the dishes to showering, playing video games to moving boxes, typing on a laptop to writing with pen and paper, our hands are essential for getting through the day.

But when pain strikes, even performing the simplest of tasks can be tough.

There are plenty of conditions and injuries that can lead to pain in your hands. But a burning sensation may narrow the possible conditions that could be to blame.

If you’re suffering from burning hands, keep reading to learn more about this painful symptom and what could be causing it.

What Can Cause a Burning Sensation in Your Hands?

If you’re experiencing a burning sensation in your hands, you’re probably eager to figure out the source of your pain so that you can put a stop to it.

Unfortunately, there are a number of things that can lead to a burning sensation in various parts of your body, including your hands.

Figuring out what is causing your pain is important if you want to put a stop to your pain. Here are just a few of the many things that can cause a burning sensation, pain, redness, and even swelling in your hands.

Neuropathy

A chronic degeneration of the nerve endings, also known as neuropathy can cause a burning sensation to your hands.  Commonly, patients with neuropathy, will have an underlying chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, and therefore have a diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy of the hands.

Trauma or Crush injury to a finger tip

When a person has a crush injury to the finger tip or nail, the tiny nerve endings can get damaged to the point where there is a burning, or hypersensitivity at the finger tips.  Often the nerves are so small, there is no way to surgically correct the problem.

Sunburn or other burns

After a long day in the sun, if you haven’t use proper UV protection, you might just find yourself with a nasty sunburn.

When most of us think of sunburns, we think of hot, painful skin on our shoulders, backs, arms, and faces. In severe cases, you might develop blisters as well.

One area that most people don’t think of getting a sunburn is our hands. Many times, we don’t rub in sunscreen on our hands as often or as well as we do the rest of our body.

Because you use your hands so much throughout the day, you might also rub off any sunscreen that you do apply. This can make the redness and painful burning on our hands after a hot day confusing.

If you are suffering from a sunburn elsewhere on your body and find that your hands hurt as well, that’s a likely cause. Apply aloe and give your skin time to heal. If the redness and burning don’t subside within a few days, it’s likely that sunburn isn’t to blame.

In that case, you should consider other possible causes or seek medical attention.

Insect Bites and Stings

Getting bitten or stung by an insect can lead to some painful side effects. From bumps to swollen skin to fevers, different insects can cause different reactions, and some people may react differently as well.

If you notice a puncture mark on your skin or a raised circle where the swelling seems to be originating from, your burning hands could be the result of an insect bite or sting.

In some cases, swelling, redness, and a burning sensation may be just the beginning of more serious side effects. For that reason, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to any symptoms you may be experiencing. If you only ever have swelling and some burning, you can likely treat your insect bite on your own at home with some anti-itch cream.

But if your symptoms become more serious, you should seek medical attention right away, as you could be suffering an allergic reaction.

Interactions With Some Plant Species

Insects aren’t the only things in nature that can cause a reaction when they come in contact with your skin. Certain plant species can also irritate the skin and cause painful burning, swelling, and redness.

Poison ivy is perhaps the best-known plant to cause a painful rash. But it’s far from the only one out there.

Other plants that could be the cause of your itchy or burning hands include:

  • Poison oak
  • Poison sumac
  • Wood nettle
  • Stinging nettle
  • Baby’s breath (Can cause skin irritation when dried)
  • Leadwort
  • Ragweed
  • Giant hogweed

In some cases, you may not even realize that you’ve come into contact with one of these plants until hours later when symptoms arise.

Allergic Reactions to Household Products

Household products like dish soap, bleach, and laundry detergent are important for keeping us and our families healthy and our houses clean. They help kill germs, get rid of dirt, and ward off bacteria.

But some of those household products aren’t meant to touch our skin. And even those that are can sometimes cause painful reactions.

Everything from dryer sheets to laundry detergent and disinfectant sprays to bleach can cause skin irritations. And because your hands are most likely to come in contact with those cleaning supplies, they are also the most likely part of your body to suffer a reaction.

If you recently started using a new kind of cleaning solution, laundry detergent, or other household products, and you then notice a burning sensation on your hands, ask yourself if that could be the cause.

Stress or Anxiety

Stress and anxiety may be mental, but they can cause a variety of very real and painful physical side effects.

Whether you’re in the middle of a panic attack or dealing with ongoing anxiety, you might find yourself with a burning sensation in your hands or elsewhere in your body.

Anxiety and stress can also cause headaches, fatigue, sore muscles, itchy skin, and increased sensitivity in your skin.

Treating these physical side effects caused by stress or anxiety starts by treating the source. While reducing stress and calming yourself down can else ease your physical symptoms, if you’ve reached the point of physical pain, you should seek professional help.

Eczema

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a skin condition that causes red, itchy patches. While eczema most often develops in children, it can start at any age.

This skin condition can be painful and very difficult to treat. Avoiding things that irritate the skin, like certain harsh soaps, has been proven to help, as has moisturizing your skin regularly or using medicated ointments and creams.

Eczema may develop in one concentrated area at first, like your hands. In addition to redness and a burning sensation, your skin will also be dry and itchy.

The redness may be concentrated in patches. Some individuals who suffer from eczema may also develop raised bumps that leak fluid when scratch and form crust after they are scratched, leaving your skin raw and sensitive.

While eczema might begin on your hands, it is likely to spread to other areas of your body, especially your knees, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, and eyelids.

Chronic Dry Skin

While eczema can cause severe dry skin, not all dry skin can be attributed to eczema.

Chronic dry skin is a condition that can strike anyone, on just about any part of the body. But it’s particularly common on your hands.

From washing your hands to touching cleaning supplies, your hands dry out more quickly than most areas of your body. Moisturizing them often can help, but chronic dryness can be tough to treat.

Left untreated, chronic dryness can lead to a burning sensation in your hands in addition to red, dry skin.

Palmar Erythema

If the burning sensation in your hands is accompanied by red, splotchy spots on the palm of your hands, it could be the result of a rare skin condition called palmar erythema.

Not much is known about palmar erythema. Other than red blotches and the sensation of warmth or burning skin, researchers aren’t sure if there are other side effects of this condition.

However, some believe it may be caused by pregnancy or other skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, autoimmune conditions, thyroid problems, or HIV. There is also evidence that it may be inherited.

Because doctors aren’t sure about the cause, it can be difficult to treat palmar erythema. However, if doctors are able to identify another condition that caused it, they may be able to treat palmar erythema by treating the initial cause.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a skeletal condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body, as well as fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and mood swings.

Sometimes, fibromyalgia occurs after a physical trauma, surgery, or following an infection. Other times, it can begin after a person experiences a traumatic event.

People suffering from fibromyalgia may experience pain in different parts of their bodies. One common place is in the hands, where pain may manifest as a burning sensation.

If you’re experiencing burning pain in other parts of your body as well as your hands, fibromyalgia may be to blame. Other symptoms include irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, painful bladder symptoms, and joint disorders.

Diagnosing fibromyalgia can sometimes be a challenge because doctors know so little about this painful condition. Some believe that fibromyalgia can run in families, with certain genetic mutations making individuals more prone to developing it.

Erythromelalgia

Erythromelalgia is just one of several names that this painful condition goes by. Others include Mitchell disease, Gerhardt disease, and Weir-Mitchell disease.

But no matter which name you hear it called, finding out that you have this very rare condition can be difficult. Besides an intense burning in your hands, you might also experience redness and swelling.

Sometimes, erythromelalgia affects both sides of one hand, while other times, it may strike just one side. Some individuals may suffer from this condition in both hands, making it even more difficult to perform everyday tasks.

One of the reasons that this diagnosis is difficult to receive is because there are limited treatment options. Since little is known about this condition, experts have struggled to determine the underlying causes that would help them to develop a treatment plan.

There is some evidence that erythromelalgia is hereditary, with several instances of individuals from several generations of the same family developing the condition.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Another painful condition of which one side effect is burning hands is carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition affecting your hands and arms. Caused by overuse, symptoms may range from light tingling in your fingers to severe pain in your arm, wrist, and hand.

This condition is most often seen in individuals who do repetitive motions at work, like assembly line workers, musicians, or those who use power tools. However, anyone can develop carpal tunnel syndrome.

Often, individuals first notice the pain when performing the repetitive motion that led to the syndrome. If you find that the pain in your hands starts after working long hours or spending time at your computer using a mouse, this could indicate that you’ve developed carpal tunnel.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can take time to diagnose because numbness, pain, and tingling can be caused by so many different conditions. Once it is diagnosed, there are several treatments that might be recommended.

For less severe cases, stretching, fewer repetitive motions, or cortisone shots might be recommended. In more severe cases, surgery might be necessary, though there are minimally invasive options.

Getting Treatment for Your Burning Hands

If you’ve ever suffered from burning hands, you know how painful it can be. Besides the pain, you may also struggle to perform everyday activities that require your hands.

Whether you already know the source of your pain or you’re still trying to get to the root of the problem, we may be able to help.

Contact one of our hand and finger surgery clinics to schedule an appointment and see if one of our experts can help you get to the bottom of your pain and put a stop to it.

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