Why do elderly people develop red palms?

Expert Answers
pacorz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Aging causes some dramatic changes in the skin. While we tend to notice the changes mostly on the face, the entire epidermis is affected. The palms of the hands and soles of the feet, being somewhat differently structured than the rest of the epidermis, show the aging process in a different way.

The main cause of redness of the palms is thinning of the epidermis. Although the total number of epidermal layers remains constant, the number and thickness of the cells in each layer gradually diminishes as we age. The number of melanocytes, which create epidermal pigmentation, also decreases. The palms and soles, which have fewer melanocytes to begin with, become virtually unpigmented.

The lack of pigmentation, combined with a thinner top layer, makes the skin of the palms translucent, and the color of the blood in the underlying blood vessels becomes more apparent, leading to the appearance of reddened palms.