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small, subdermal 'blisters'
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small, subdermal 'blisters'

I am stationed in Iraq and have been here for 3.5 months so far.  About 3 weeks after being here, I started getting small bumps on my fingers.  These bumps appear to be tiny blisters under the skin.  I have popped some of them, and a clear liquid comes out. They seem to spread quickly from finger to finger which makes me wonder if it is contagious.  I now have these tiny bumps on my palms and my fingers.  I have a lot of them and they really itch.  The skin around them seems to get soft or changes texture when wet, which also makes it itchy.  I was using hydrogen peroxide on a different wound and some got on one of the tiny blister areas - the area bubbled and caused irritation.

At first I thought it was contracted through the use of community weight lifting equiments, showers, faucets, etc.  But nobody else had them.  Then I thought it might be heat related since I am sweating most of the day.  I still don't know.  I asked the military medicine here and they were skeptical to answer any skin questions.  They told me that they tought it was exsema.  I have had exsema as a child, but haven't had an active period for years.  Plus, my exsema looked nothing like these bumps.  They gave me hydrocortisone 1% cream and that hasn't helped at all.

Two days ago the bumps seemed to have gone away, only to have them come back full force the next day, worse than ever.  The skin around the area seems to have a different appearance/texture although only if one really looks closely.  I wash my hands frequently and use anti-bacterial gel occasionally in hopes that this will help.  It hasn't.

Like I said, I can pop these little blister-looking bumps if I squeeze them, and sometimes when I pop them they actually go away.  I have dealt with these things for the past 3 months and I have another 3 to go before I can see a "real" doctor back in the states.  Please PLEASE help me!  I am afraid to shake peoples' hands in fear that they will get what I have or they will feel these little things.  My wife is also deployed with me and I am afraid to touch her anywhere.  Thank you -

A deployed soldier
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This does indeed sound like eczema.  Eczema causes blisters, but they're usually too small to appreciate.  When it affects the fingers, the thick skin allows them to be large enough to see.  It does not sound at all as though you are contagious in any way.  Topical cortisone creams may be helpful, but it's best not to pop the blisters--the fluid that comes out is not infected, just your body's tissue fluid.

For more information, check out: http://www.dermnetnz.org/dermatitis/pompholyx.html

All the best.

Dr. Rockoff
12 Comments
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I have hundreds of small extremely itchy/burny blisters on my hands, they are along the sides of my fingers (and recently on my palms and wrists) and are intensely itchy.  When the blisters have burst, there is a clear liquid in them, and then the skin goes hard and about a week later just peels off, the skin underneath is paperthin and is so sensitive.

Ive been to the docs and he said it was contact dermatitis but I only have it on my hands and fingers, nowhere else at all.  I just wish he would refer me to someone, cos I cant cope with it.

The itching is set of by the warmth during the day, I wear cotton clothes in bed and soak my hands in moisturiser before I go to bed, cos the skin is so dry.

I have been giving various creams to try and use, Ive used Lanacane to try and numb the pain and itching but it isnt working.  Ive got Fucidin cream and Tri-Adcortyl cream too and they havent helped.  Im also on antihistamines Telfast (Fexofenadine 180mg) which hardly touch the itching at all.

My hands just burn and itch so much, that I am crying as I am typing this.  Typing is getting hard cos I cant bend my fingers much.

Any ideas.
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I also get this same rash on my hands.  It's localized to the outsides of my index fingers.  I only get in the warm weather and sun and warmth make it irritated.  I have to wear gloves when doing dishes or the hot water will irritate them.  They also itch like crazy.  I've tried OTC creams, but haven't found one that clears it up.  I have yet to go to the Dr. for this.  I don't think it's an soaps or other products.  Also, the skin is very delicate if these "blisters" break open.  Anyone know what this is??
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I have had these same problems for the past 3 years.  I just went to the doctor and I was told that I have "dyshydrotic eczema".  I was given a corticosteroid pill and cream for relief of inflamation (inflammation), redness, swelling, and to reduce itching.  My doctor also recomended cetaphil cream and cetaphil wash for prevention and small breakouts, He then informed me that there is no known cause and no cure. Cetaphil cream and wash can be found at Wal-Mart.  I hope this info can help you.

Feeling your pain,

itchy247
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Avatar_n_tn
I have had these for about four years on my feet. Have tried most prescription and nonprescription remedies. Unfortunately, since they are on my feet, the biggest problem is keeping them uninfected.My feet are better in the summer when I wear sandals most of the time. I have just finished an antibiotic and steroid cream and they were almost cleared up when it started again. A couple of years ago, I got them on my hands also. Fortunately the hands eventually got a good infection going which actually "popped" many of the blisters. It never came back on my hands. What that means I have no idea.

Sue
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I have the same thing, on my fingers, mostly index fingers.  They come and go.  When here they itch, then pop and burn.  When they are drying up the skin gets tough and peels off.  I have been told the same, eczema, or dermatitis.  I got it when we moved up here to Alaska, am told it is brought on by climate change sometimes.  I use just a lotion that was prescribed by doc, but it doesnt seem to work.  Resort back to OTC anti itch, and before bed take atarax so it does not itch all night.

Good luck, mine comes and goes, have been trying to track what 'triggers' it but have yet to figure it out.  Any advice?
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My name is Susan, and I also suffer from dyshidrotic exzema (eczema). About 3 years ago I change jobs and started working in a carpet store.Within 5 months I was at the derm with the same blisters and insane itching that all of you have been suffering from. I finally went to an immunoligist after no help from the derms. And to my surprise I was informed that I had developed a sensatization to the latex carpet backing in the store. Well there is no cure for this condition, but I have found thru research on my own that there are many foods I can not eat. They react to the chemicals the same as latex and I will have a severe breakout if I don't watch out. Also As far as the derms are concerned they really have no aswers for this and I find that most of them are lacking in the knowledge department in this area. Derms or not they have no idea about this because they themselves had done little research. My suggestion to all of you is to contact an allergist/immunologist for some answers to help all of you feel alittle better. I have this on both my hands and feet. And continually find walking and everday living a chore. I wish all of you the best of luck, and hope that you can find an answer to this problem. I wish you the best.   Susan
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I have noticed that I develop small blisters on my fingers during times of stress.  I used to suffer from anxiety attacks and had them at that time.  It has been under control for 2 years, however, yesterday I received news that my mother had been diagnosed with cancer.  Within 1 hour I had a blister on the outside of my pinkie.  My son has atopic dermititis, so image I might too, but have far fewer symptoms unless under stress.
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I've been searching all over the net tryin' to figure out what this is, Thanks everyone, this is VERY helpful..

--Dave (from Minnesota)
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I am not in the armed services,but I get the same blisters. My docter told me they are stress blistersand that only appear in times of great stress.They usualy appear in people between the ages of twenty to fourty,but this is not a rule as I an fifty four.Any type of water will make them spread.dish washing,showers,sweat...He suggestted to wear rubber gloves in the shower and during cleaning but thats improbable.They just have to run their course.I've learned to get used to them,though the itching and burning sensation can make you crazy.Just know that it isn't catchy or spreadable by any kind of contact,as a matter of fact it means you are more sensetive than other folks.As we speak,I'm going through the worst bought of it I've ever had to the point I've got open sores because of scratching.hope this puts your mind to rest,and thank you for all that you're doing for us over there
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I have a friend that was in Iraq also that came home little bumps that turn in to blisters on his feet and toes. when they pop the seem to hurt the most and spread his has now gotten them on hes hands from dealing with the ones on his feet. They are contaugse he has given it to his daughter. He didnt get them until he had walkede thru the water in Iraq. Hes been to the va and his own doctor and noone knows what they are. he even had them looked at as we were srping to go to Iraq and they didnt know what they are either.
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My name is heather. Two days ago I woke up and started itching my Right hand in the middle of the night, the next day I looked at my hand and saw tiny skin colored bumps inbetween my ring and pinky finger and on the palm of my hand. I had been itching it vigerously and I'm sure that didn't help. My hand feels swollen like I have been stung by a bee when there us no swollenness at all. My boyfriend had this issue on his fingers and on some of his toes he said that came out because of the suntan lotion he was using while we were on vacation. He washed his hands several times after applying suntan lotion and it went away. Now I have it. I am SURE it's not scabies because it is not tender OR red. Just small bumps and I'm positive it isn't exema (eczema) because I have never had this issue before. People look up exema (eczema) this is nothing like that so do your research before you freak someone out!! I'm sure it's just irriated because my hands are dry and I have been itching them. I bought some cream over the counter for 4 dollars to stop the itch called cortaid it's subsided the itch for now but I'll give it a few days. It's more of an annoyance than a concern at this point just DONT ITCH IT! Mine is not red not puffy just a little raised. I'm going to try washing my hands more frequently and I'll tell you how it goes! Oh yeah... The itchyness is made worse with heat so I stuck my hands under cold water and it gave me some relief. I also got a lot of sun on my vacation and I have heard of people being Allergic to too much sun in a short period of time so maybe give your skin a break from the heat. Take Luke warm showers for relief and try cortaid. If your problem doesn't go away in 7 days of using it ( while not itching ) see a doctor but don't let them inject you with Anything! Unless there and you are 100 percent sure you know what it is... Like I said I'll keep you posted! ***@****
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Had these since early 20's off and on- brought on by stress.  I feel a tingly feeling in my fingers before they erupt, that's when I know I'm in for a week or two of hell.  I use prescription. 2.5% hydrocortisone cream to help with the itchiness barely.  This same cream totally helped with a poison ivy rash, but it barely works on the blister itchiness so you can see how intense these blisters are!  No cure- will have them off and on the rest of my life during stress...cold does help with the ithchiness so an icepack should help.
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Keep hands and affected areas dry. Anti-persperants help if spayed on affected areas. DO NOT apply poroxide or alchol it will only make matters worse!! Soak areas in luke warm salt water once a day and let air dry quickly. DO NOT USE HOT WATER! A fan will help you dry fast. If you have it on arms or legs take salt water baths and air dry quickly. Try not to handle cleaning supplies and acidic fruit such as lemon/limes/oranges ect.. ok to eat just try not to handle. Hyrocortizone creams work well but if your break out is severe have a doctor give you a shot of steriods it works wonders!! Stress, lack of good sleep and drinking also aggrivate symptoms. I've struggled with this for 16 years. Its not contagious but if you have it on your hands try not to rub your eyes too much. *I believe it causes eye styes.* The blisters contain bacteria and that's what causes styes! Hope you find this helps!
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A related discussion, Itchy blisters on hands was started.
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Hello, while cleaning up on a construction site using gloves- I noticed my hands becoming very itchy. The sweat and dirt didn't help much at all. I took a shower that night, and all through the next day my hands were fine. Then the second day I noticed small blisters forming on the sides of my fingers and on the tips. I used nail clippers to pop one of them and it brought relief to that area. A couple more blisters started forming. I have very bad allergies, and have had skin issues in the past, but never with my hands! And not in the last 8 or so years. These things aren't overwhelming, but it is uncomfortable to handle objects and occasionally have "itch spikes" as well as mild burning sensations. Sweat seems to be the culprit as far as symptoms goes. This is important because usually with anxiety comes sweating of the hands. Generally stress can provoke you to become anxious much easier. I have anxiety problems so I usually have sweaty hands regardless. With this condition it really is a bad mix! However, if you are seeking some immediate treatment, keep your hands dry, recognize if you are anxious to prevent hand sweating, and know that frustratingly focusing on anything - including an itching sensation, intensifies it.
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The first time I got the blisters they were on the soles of my feet, that was probably 12 yrs ago, then in march of 2009 it happened again, both times the dermatologist said it was dermatitis and gave me a hydrocortisone lotion called aquanil HC, it helped, well now I have developed them on my palms and fingers, not on the back side of my hands at all, the skin is thick over them, they are very tender and itch severly, the lotion is not helping at all this time,and Iam a nurse so I have to ne able to use my hands, I wonder if a round of oral steroids would help.
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Wow...  I check online a few years ago when I had a bad outbreak of this and found no info whatsoever.  Now, there are lots of people ranking about it.  I am glad to know it is not just me.  

I have been dealing with this exactly for the last 11 years.  Hot sweaty feet seem to cause it for me.  Stedoid creams do work for a while, nut after repeated uses over the years, I now have to use the strong expensive ($90+ per small tube) stuff (betamethozone diproponate) to affect it at all -- and that only works if they are small and not clustered or open.  If they are, nothing topical seems to help.  Drying them out also seems to get me the best results.  It took me many years to be confident of this, but I am certain it is not contagious.  IMO, they seem to spread when they pop because it causes the areas surrounding the open sores to remain moist.  Add a little heat and suddenly it becomes a new patch of blisters.  Very frustrating.  I find myself needing to take my shoes off under my desk at work frequently to ventilated them and prevent them from coming in the first place.  But, inevitability, there comes a day or three where I am stuck in hot shoes for too long...

A friend of mine just yesterday told me he had the same issue 10 years ago or so and found that Nike Air shoes helped him keep his feet cooler and he has only had an outbreak on e since.  I am definitely going g to have to try that, since they now cost less than the steroid cream I have to use.  :)  Here it for hoping...

Thanks to all for all your posts!
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At first I was just itching for a couple months, the past 3 days these blusters started to appear. They grow in size each day unless I pop them! I had I freind living with me who had been deployed to Iraq, I didn't have this until he moved in. Now my brother an another roomate has this! I am the only one who has the blisters so far! It drives me crazy! The itching is worse with hot baths or before bed! Any help please email me @ ***@****
it has to be contagious somehow! I'm leaning towards scabies! I am a carpet cleaner but never had this problem in the 4 years I've been at work!
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I first developed this issue about 6 years ago when I was doing a lot of metal work and work with hydraulics. I always blamed it on the allergic reaction to certain metals as I was exposed to tiny metal shavings from grinding and cutting metal, as well as mettalic particles present in hydraulic oil. In early 2008 I got a sales job that had nothing to do with this type of work or materials and had not seen them for years. In December of 2010 I went to work for a hydraulic company and am often in contact with the hydraulic oil that we use for testing these parts which is loaded with metal particles and of course the ridiculously itchy micro blisters have returned.  I have to believe that it is an allergic reaction and discovered that Lamisil AT seems to clear it up for me, has to be Lamisil or the generic with the active ingredient Terbinafine Hydrochloride. Hope this helps.
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I have the same issue all of you are describing: small itchy blisters on the hands and soles of the feet. I have never had any kind of eczema before so I was quite concerned. After seeing the dermatologist I learned that it is a type of eczema called dyshydrosis and usually presents when you are in your twenties. I was prescribed a topical steroid called Clobetasol Propionate (0.05%) and it has done wonders after only a week of use. The itching has stopped and the skin is beginning to heal. This is a very strong topical steroid so the treatment is only for two weeks as it can thin the skin. The doctor also said to keep it handy to treat flare-ups. I hope this helps.
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