Palmar erythema is a rare condition that makes the palms of the hands turn red. They may also feel warm but will not be swollen, painful, or itchy.

Possible causes of palmar erythema include pregnancy and liver cirrhosis.

Anyone experiencing the symptoms of palmar erythema should contact their healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment of any underlying conditions.

This article further explains palmar erythema. It also discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatment for the condition.

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Palmar erythema is reddening in both of the palms. Reddening typically occurs on the lower part of the palm (the heel), but sometimes it may extend all the way up through the fingers.

Redness may also show up on the soles of the feet. However, this is called plantar erythema.

On darker skin tones palmar erythema may appear darker than the natural skin tone instead of red or pink.

The redness may resemble a rash, and the skin will turn pale when pressed. Palmar erythema is also generally not itchy or painful. However, the skin may feel warm to the touch.

The degree of redness may vary depending on several factors, such as a person’s body temperature, physical activity, and emotional state.

Palmar erythema is not usually a harmful condition. It can be a primary condition with no underlying cause. However, it is usually the result of another medical condition. Some of these underlying conditions may be harmful if they are left untreated.

The redness in the palms is due to dilated capillaries in the hand, which draw more blood to the surface. In some cases, this may be linked to hormonal changes.

There are a variety of causes and underlying risk factors that may contribute to palmar erythema, and they vary based on the type of erythema.

Primary palmar erythema

Primary palmar erythema is a physical symptom that is not caused by another condition. There are a few risk factors for developing the condition.

Pregnancy is a common cause of primary palmar erythema. According to data from 2007, at least 30% of pregnant individuals experience palmar erythema. A pregnant person’s body goes through hormonal changes during pregnancy, causing estrogen levels to rise.

Higher estrogen levels may increase the likelihood of developing palmar erythema. This rise in estrogen is temporary, so redness in the palms will likely disappear after the pregnancy.

In other cases, genetics may contribute to primary palmar erythema. People who have family members with palmar erythema may be more likely to develop the condition themselves.

Palmar erythema may also be idiopathic. This means that there is no known cause and that healthcare professionals cannot identify an underlying trigger for the symptom.

Secondary palmar erythema

As a secondary symptom, palmar erythema is linked to many different conditions and is often the first sign of a medical problem.

Palmar erythema is commonly associated with liver diseases, such as:

Around 23% of people with cirrhosis will experience palmar erythema.

Some liver conditions are hereditary, while others may be influenced by diet and lifestyle choices, such as drinking alcohol.

Depending on a person’s liver function, some medications may also cause palmar erythema. During diagnosis, a healthcare professional will often ask about any medications a person is taking to see if the condition is a side effect of any particular drug.

Other conditions may cause redness in the palms. These include:

When palmar erythema develops in children, it may be linked to different conditions. These conditions include:

Children may also develop palmar erythema due to a genetic predisposition.

Palmar erythema is characterized by redness of the palms of the hands. This redness appears on both hands and is not painful or itchy.

Some people may notice that their hands feel slightly warmer but are not irritated or swollen. The condition may spread to the fingers but will not spread to anywhere else on the body.

Other symptoms may show up in the body depending on the underlying condition, but palmar erythema typically causes no additional symptoms.

Healthcare professionals can typically diagnose palmar erythema by inspecting the palms. However, they will also usually perform a thorough examination to determine if there is anything else causing the condition.

To help them with their diagnosis, a healthcare professional will review the person’s medical history and may ask if the symptom has shown up in any blood relatives.

They will typically order one or more tests to help confirm their diagnosis. This can include tests that measure:

  • liver function
  • fasting glucose levels
  • total blood cell count
  • the presence of hepatitis B or C
  • thyroid function
  • iron or copper levels
  • blood urea nitrogen
  • blood creatine levels
  • levels of various antibodies

Depending on the suspected cause of palmar erythema, a healthcare professional may also order imaging tests, such as a CT scan or MRI.

Healthcare professionals will typically only conclude that palmar erythema is idiopathic if they have tested all other possibilities.

There is no specific treatment to cure red palms caused by palmar erythema. Treatment involves finding and addressing the underlying cause of the condition. Once the underlying cause is treated, the redness in the palms may go away partially or entirely.

If the redness is a side effect of a medication, healthcare professionals may recommend alternative medications. Changing or stopping medications should always be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.


There is no standard treatment for cirrhosis. Healthcare professionals aim to treat the underlying causes of liver damage.

This may include lifestyle changes, such as:

  • changing eating habits
  • avoiding alcohol consumption
  • maintaining a moderate weight

They may also recommend medications to treat conditions, like hepatitis B or C. If medication is the cause of cirrhosis, then they may have a person stop taking the medications and recommend different ones.


Hemochromatosis is a condition that causes a buildup of iron in the blood. This can lead to dysfunction in various organs.

The main treatment for hemochromatosis is phlebotomy. Phlebotomy involves drawing blood from an individual in order to remove excess iron from the blood.

For people who may not be eligible for phlebotomy, healthcare professionals may recommend medications that make it possible to pass extra iron through urine.

Wilson disease

Wilson disease is a rare condition that involves an abnormal accumulation of copper in the body.

Healthcare professionals usually treat Wilson disease with medications that remove copper from the body. They may also recommend that an individual take zinc. Zinc can help prevent the intestines from absorbing copper.

Palmar erythema is redness in the palms that may be a sign of an underlying condition. Anyone with unexplained redness in the palms should contact their healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment to avoid any complications.

Accurately diagnosing the underlying cause of palmar erythema is important but may take some time. Treating the underlying cause of palmar erythema will often reduce symptoms.

In cases where palmar erythema has no underlying cause, symptoms may be persistent but are generally harmless. It is always good to check in with a healthcare professional periodically if palmar erythema is long-term.