If You Notice This on Your Hands, Get Your Liver Checked, Doctors Say
This could be a sign that something is amiss with your liver.
Your liver is an essential organ that helps rid your body of toxins and metabolizes the medications you take. But it's also an organ that can take quite the hit based on certain behaviors, like overusing alcohol or simply eating too much sugar. Unfortunately, you may not realize something is wrong with your liver until your symptoms are severe, at which point the damage might be hard to undo, but there are certain subtle signs that could tell you it's time to seek a professional opinion. According to experts, if you notice one unusual thing on your hands, you should get your liver checked. Read on to find out more on the connection between your hands and your liver, and for more warning signs, If You Feel This at Night, You Need to Get Your Liver Checked, Doctors Say.
If you notice redness on your hands, you should get your liver checked.
If you notice your palms getting redder and redder, you may want to consult a doctor about your liver. Reddening of the palms, also known as palmar erythema, can be caused by liver disease, says Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician and health advisor for Invigor Medical. According to Poston, about a quarter of people with liver disease develop palmar erythema.
"The reddening of palms from liver disease occurs because the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) in the hands become dilated and increase the amount of blood in the hands," Jenna Liphart Rhoads, PhD, a nurse and health educator for NurseTogether, explains. "If you notice that you are experiencing palmar erythema, it is worth telling your primary care provider to determine if further testing is needed." And for ways you could be damaging your liver, If You're Taking Tylenol With This, Your Liver Is in Danger, Experts Say.
Red palms are associated with several types of liver disease.
According to Rhoads, red palms are associated with several forms of liver disease, including Wilson's disease, hemochromatosis, and cirrhosis. Wilson's disease is a condition that stops the liver from removing copper properly, while hemochromatosis causes too much iron to build up in your body. Cirrhosis, however, is a late-stage liver disease "in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue and the liver is permanently damaged," says Mehmet Oz, MD, a cardiothoracic survey specialist and host of The Dr. Oz Show. This disease can be caused by long-term, chronic alcohol use, and shows "no signs or symptoms until liver damage is extensive," per the experts at the Mayo Clinic. And for more health concerns, If You Can't Do This in 90 Seconds, Your Heart Is in Danger, Study Says.
Liver disease-related redness of your hands is typically concentrated in a specific area.
David Beatty, MRCGP, a general practitioner with more 30 years of experience, says palmist erythema associated with liver disease most commonly produces redness around the "fleshy parts of the palm, below the thumb and the little finger," but it can also affect other parts of the palm and even the fingers. Poston notes that the redness will usually be symmetrical and feel slightly warm, but it won't be painful or itchy. If you press on the redness, your skin will turn pale, Oz explains. And for more useful health information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Your may notice other hand-related issues if you have liver disease.
Of course, red palms can be associated with other concerns—like pregnancy and rheumatoid arthritis—and people with liver disease do not always experience this symptom. But liver disease can also affect your hands in other ways, experts say. One of these is asterixis, a tremor associated with your wrists and hands, according to Oz. You could also see bruising, yellow skin, and clubbed fingers, Beatty says. Dupuytren's contracture, which is a deformity that forces one or more of your fingers into a bent position, is another symptom that both Oz and Beatty say is heavily associated with liver disease, but it "usually takes years to develop," Oz notes. The presence of any of these symptoms alongside red palms is even more of a reason to get your liver checked. And for more guidance on keeping your liver healthy, If You're Drinking This Bottled Water, Your Liver May Be in Danger, FDA Says.