How to Treat a Bright Red Rash on the Hands

A red, itchy rash on the hands can be enough to ruin your day. The itchiness is bothersome and distracting, and its location on the hands means the skin is constantly exposed. Any number of things can cause a rash on the hands, but commonly a rash results from exposure to certain allergens or chemicals, a condition called contact dermatitis. Most rashes are not serious and can be easily treated at home, but see your doctor if the rash does not subside after a day or two or does not respond to home treatment.

A woman is holding a jar of medical ointment in her hands. (Image: Milenko Bokan/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Identify the cause of the rash, if possible. A rash may develop from an allergy or contact with chemicals or plants such as poison ivy, but they also can form because of skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. People with sensitive skin can also develop a rash because of perfumes and dyes in soaps and detergents. Knowing what caused the rash can help determine how to treat it and whether you need to visit a health practitioner.

Step 2

Apply an over-the-counter anti-itch cream such as 1 percent hydrocortisone or calamine lotion to help control the itching.

Step 3

Use an over-the-counter oral antihistamine to help further control the itching, advises the American Academy of Dermatologists.

Step 4

Wear gloves over you hands if you cannot stop scratching them. Avoid scratching at the rash as much as possible because this can increase your risk of developing a skin infection.

Step 5

Apply moist compresses or ice packs on your hands to suppress itching and soothe irritated skin. This can help both with contact dermatitis rashes as well as skin conditions such as eczema.

Things You'll Need

  • Over-the counter anti-itch products

  • Oral antihistamines

  • Gloves (optional)

  • Cool compresses


If the itching is really getting to you, trying rubbing the skin instead of scratching it.


Certain types of rashes may indicate a potentially serious condition requiring treatment. If the rash is accompanied by shortness or breath, difficulty breathing or swelling in the face and mouth, seek immediate medical attention. Also schedule an appointment with your doctor if you also notice any of the following: joint pain, red streaks on the skin or a tick bite, or if the rash develops shortly after you begin taking a medication. Most rashes resulting from a viral infection are contagious, especially those that are accompanied by a fever, notes the University of California San Diego. If you or your child has a viral rash, avoid contact with others, particularly pregnant women and children.

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