What is this discoloration on my hand?
August 25, 2008 10:44 AM   Subscribe

I recently got a stripe of mild discoloration on my hand about a half-inch long. I am almost certain that it isn't a bruise, as it has been on my hand for about a month now. It has faded, but doesn't look like it's going to go away on its own. What caused it?

More info: I didn't burn it, didn't spill anything unusual on it, I noticed it in the middle of the week so I didn't likely get it while drinking on a weekend, it doesn't hurt, it doesn't impair movement or rotation in any way. It's on the top of my hand, below my second finger where the thumb joins the hand.
posted by Damn That Television to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
What color? Silver nitrate (nitrite? not sure) can turn your skin brown once it's exposed to sunlight...
posted by Grither at 10:49 AM on August 25, 2008

Oops -- yeah, brown, not terribly dark; it kind of looks like a shadow on my hand if you just glance at it. I don't think I was handling any silver nitrate, though.
posted by Damn That Television at 10:52 AM on August 25, 2008

It's common in photography stuff I believe, which is why I mentioned it, were you in a photo lab recently? :-)
posted by Grither at 10:57 AM on August 25, 2008

Nope. But now that you've brought up the "spilled chemical" approach, I'm tempted to go through my home/work to see if there are any unusual elements floating around the office, like a big bottle of Silver Nitrate sitting next to a bottle of hand sanitizer.
posted by Damn That Television at 11:08 AM on August 25, 2008

Skin can have weird allergic reactions to all kinds of materials, especially some kinds of plastic (google "walmart flip flops" if you want to be horrified). It could easily be a mild reaction to something you were holding recently, which would go away on its own. If it gets worse or starts to hurt, you should probably see a doctor. Otherwise, I'm going to guess you're fine (and that it'll go away eventually). But who knows. Humans are weird.
posted by phunniemee at 11:09 AM on August 25, 2008

IAMNAD: It could be a tinea infection. If it looks like a fading bruise but it never seems to fade away. Is there scaling? Pretty easy to go to a doc and get some anti-fungal creme or an oral dosage to treat the infection.
Not a big deal, people with pets get them commonly. Also, if you've been in the ocean or a pool recently, that's another way to get these things.
posted by dearest at 11:55 AM on August 25, 2008

The combination of citrus fruits (especially lime juice) and strong sunlight can cause phytophotodermatitis. Bartenders who work outside get it a lot.
posted by Morpeth at 12:01 PM on August 25, 2008

Funny, we were just talking about the strange mark on my hand the other day. Some plants can photosensitive skin. I'm guessing that is what happened.
posted by Good Brain at 12:17 PM on August 25, 2008

I think dearest may have been referring to Tinea nigra.
posted by sero_venientibus_ossa at 3:58 PM on August 25, 2008

I'm so glad you asked this. I've had two marks appear recently, one on either shin. I first thought it was dirt, or a bruise, but it wouldn't wash off and it didn't hurt.

The only thing unusual that I can think of is I switched brands of spray on self-tanner (from Neutrogena to Coppertone). It's still there and that was weeks ago. It won't even scrub off (not flaky either).

Do you use self-tanner or any of the "glow" lotions?

Mine does not look like the tinea nigra above.
posted by slo at 6:18 PM on August 25, 2008

No, I don't use any self-tanner or even any lotion. And the Tinea nigra is much darker and more noticeable. Thanks for the advice so far everyone.
posted by Damn That Television at 10:45 AM on August 26, 2008

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