According to WebMD palmar erythema, also known as PE or red palms, either occurs on its own or is the result of a disease. When palmer erythema occurs on its own, it is known as primary PE. It is referred to as secondary PE when it occurs as the result of a disease.
WebMD states that primary palmar erythema can have genetic roots. At least 30 percent of pregnant women may experience PE due to changes in the skin as a result of hormonal effects caused by pregnancy.
WebMD also points out that palmar erythema can be attributed to various diseases. A common cause is liver disease, and about a quarter of people who suffer from liver cirrhosis may also develop PE. Rheumatoid arthritis is a cause of secondary PE as it has been reported that 60 percent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis have PE. Fifteen percent of patients with cancer that either begins or spreads to the brain develop PE.
WebMD reports that several drugs can cause palmar erythema. Albuterol, gemfibrozil, topiramate, amiodarone and cholestyramine are the most common drugs that cause PE.
In addition to the genetic and disease factors that cause palmar erythema, WebMD notes that environmental factors, such as chronic mercury poisoning and smoking, can also cause PE.