What Does It Mean When Your Left Hand Itches?

Call it superstition, an old wives' tale, or childhood playground rules, but on the rare occasion that your left palm gets itchy, chances are your mind immediately thinks "money might be coming my way!" And for most people that certainly seems to be true. According to a 2019 survey by Research For Good, a whopping 52% of Americans put a whole lot of faith in superstitions and signs, compared to the only 22% that think these beliefs are all just silly. And for those that believe, it's the magic surrounding good luck and fortune that they put the most weight in.

Turns out, a little bit of hope in the unbelievable might not be such a bad thing. Take Mary Shammas of Brooklyn, New York. According to CBS, back in 2010, the 73-year-old grandma was riding the bus when her left palm started getting itchy. Remembering the superstition, she got off at the next stop, bought a lottery ticket and won $64 million. Was it simply a coincidence? Maybe, but had it not been for the itch which she described as, "one I've never had before," she may not have taken a chance on that very day.

There's only one problem with the theory, however. The location of the itch and what it means seems to vary greatly. And that's because superstitions, for the most part, get passed down by word of mouth. Much like the telephone game, just one slip of the tongue, or in this case, a confusion of left or right can change the premonition completely.

In some cultures the luck of an itchy palm depends on whether you are a woman or a man

According to the Farmer's Almanac, it's an itchy right palm that signifies money is coming in, and an itchy left palm means you're going to be, unfortunately, paying money out. Conversely, the blog, Stack Your Dollars, cites the superstition the same way Shammas did: "Left to receive, right to give."

In India, the mythology focuses on the right hand being the lucky side because according to LuckMoneyMyth, it's the hand associated with the goddess of fortune. As a culture, money is always exchanged through the right hand because it signifies good luck and wealth in the future. The superstition in India completely changes based on gender though, as noted by lifestyle and spirituality website SpeakingTree. When a woman's right palm itches it alludes to bad luck with finances, but an itchy left palm on a woman holds the same weight as lucky Mary Shammas: Money is coming your way!

Confused yet? Maybe in this case and in the case of all superstitions, it's not so much which palm is itchy, but more so the credence you place in the belief itself that matters. A 2009 article published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry explains, "Our beliefs provide the script to write or rewrite the code of our reality." Think of it like the placebo effect. If the brain believes what you are doing creates a particular result, it becomes real.

If you have persistently itchy hands, left or right, you should see a doctor

While an occasional itch on the palm, right or left, can be tied to whichever superstition you believe, a persistent itch could also be the sign of a medical condition. According to Healthline, incessant itchy palms could be a sign of a chronic skin condition like eczema or psoriasis or an allergy to something you've touched. More often than not, however, dry winter skin, or excessive hand washing without proper moisturization afterwards is the main culprit for annoyingly itchy palms. If the addition of hand cream to your daily routine doesn't improve the condition, or if you develop a rash, cracked skin, or painful blistering, you should definitely have it checked out.

Whether you believe in superstitions or not, there's something to be said for these universal beliefs. As a general life rule, it's certainly wise not to walk under ladders, finding a penny (or any form of money) is a windfall because it's free, and beginner's luck might actually be real since you are less inhibited and more likely to take risks when you first try something because you aren't concerned with winning. Ultimately, you decide which color cat is the unluckiest (if any), which shoulder to throw spilled salt over, and most importantly, which hand's itch foretells wealth in the future. After all, who's to say an itchy palm isn't worthy of, at the very least, acknowledgement — it certainly worked for Mary Shammas!