Palmar Erythema | What Is Palmar Erythema

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Have you heard of palmar erythema? Are your hands unusually red? Does someone in your family also have red palms? Let's talk about it.

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Palmar Erythema | Why Do I Have Red Palms?

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What Is Palmar Erythema?

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Palmar erythema (PE) is the condition where your hands appear red.


The condition is also called liver palms, red palms, or Lane's disease, named after its discoverer.

What does palmar erythema mean? The term palmar refers to your hands, while the term erythema pertains to the reddening of your skin. If you experience redness on the soles of your feet, that is plantar erythema.

How serious is palmar erythema? It is not a dangerous condition and is benign. What makes this alarming is what red palms might be a marker for.

What Are the Symptoms of Palmar Erythema?

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The condition affects both hands, coloring the bottom of your hands up to your fingers.

What does PE feel like?

  • it not painful and is not known to cause discomfort
  • it is not itchy
  • it may feel warm

The shade of red might change depending on:

  • the elevation of your hand
  • your emotional state
  • the temperature

Because red palms are blanchable, the redness may go away when you apply pressure on the surface of your skin.

The redness is usually limited to your palms, but it may also affect the skin under your nails.

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What Causes Palmar Erythema?

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There are two ways to classify the causes.

Primary PE

These are non-serious cases, and you could live normally without concerns.

In rare cases, the condition is hereditary. Someone else from your family might also have some palm redness.

Around 30% of pregnant women may also develop erythema. The elevated levels of estrogen that occur during pregnancy could impact your blood vessels and may color your palms. However, the redness could subside after your pregnancy.

It's also possible that there is no cause for Lane's disease. But only can your doctor can diagnose if your skin condition is idiopathic or spontaneous.

Red palms might point to other conditions. While this symptom is not harmful and does not cause pain, its underlying cause could be something to get checked out.

Secondary PE

Secondary causes are underlying conditions, and the redness of your palms could be a symptom. Causes could range from diseases to your medication.

Diseases associated with the skin condition may include:

  • rheumatoid arthritis. Over 60% of patients may have PE.
  • thyrotoxicosis. Approximately 18% of thyrotoxicosis patients can have PE.
  • diabetes. Around 4.1% of diabetes patients may develop PE.
  • cirrhosis.

Some researchers also hypothesize that PE could be linked to lung disease.

Around 15% of patients with primary and secondary brain tumors may also have PE.

Some drugs could cause PE in the presence of liver damage, including:

  • amiodarone
  • gemfibrozil
  • cholestyramine

But if your liver is otherwise healthy, drugs that may still induce PE include topiramate and albuterol.

If you develop PE after taking these drugs, let your doctor know immediately. Also, watch out for other side effects that you might experience.

Environmental factors may also cause PE. Chronic mercury poisoning and smoking may also cause you to develop a skin condition.

It's not known yet whether the drinks or food you eat can cause PE.

When Should I Visit My Doctor?

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You may be born with hereditary PE, but it could also manifest in your later years.

If you develop PE spontaneously, it may still pay to visit your doctor. Yes, even if there are no accompanying symptoms. Exhibiting unusual symptoms is grounds enough to pay your doctor a visit.

Keep in mind that PE could be a marker or a symptom of more serious conditions and environmental factors.

If it is not PE, after all, you will have at least gained peace of mind.

How to Diagnose Palmar Erythema

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A doctor may spot red palms on sight. But investigating the root cause may be more complicated than that.

When you do visit your doctor, do your best to recall:

  • your medical history
  • the food you might have eaten
  • any allergens you may have come into contact with
  • the medication you are taking
  • other conditions you may have

These pieces of information will help your doctor determine possible causes.

Your physician may also order a full-body workup, including:

  • physical examination
  • blood count
  • liver function
  • C virus and hepatitis B serology
  • ferritin test
  • fasting glucose
  • thyroid-stimulating hormone
  • chest x-ray

These tests will evaluate the health of organs that have been linked to PE. This could help cross out some possible causes on the list and pinpoint the main culprit.

How to Treat Palmar Erythema

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Unfortunately, there are no known treatments for PE.

In the case of primary PE, treatment may not even be necessary. Pregnancy-induced PE will go away on its own without outside intervention.  The degree of redness will also depend on a few factors that are within your control.

However, if your red palms are caused by secondary PE, the important first step is to figure out the root cause with your doctor. Volunteer for a full-body workup, and provide your physician with as much relevant information as you can remember.

If you suspect your medication for your PE, discuss it with your doctor before you stop taking them. These could be important medications notwithstanding the side effect. Your doctor may substitute your medication after a proper assessment.

Check out this video to find out how PE affects your pregnancy:

PE is a skin condition that seems harmless—and often times it is. However, they might also point to signs of trouble. And when it comes to your health and beating diseases, time is of the essence.

Red palms may fade away on their own only after your address the cause. And the first step to finding the root cause is setting a doctor's appointment. It pays to pay attention to your body.

Where else are you experiencing redness in other parts of your body?

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Do you think you have palmar erythema? Did this article help lay your fears to rest or encourage you to see your doctor? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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