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Itchy bumps on elbows psoriasis or eczema?

I have itchy bumps on both of my elbows (outer-side only).  They appeared on both left and right elbows at same time about a week ago.  The bumps look skin-colored, almost like blisters or mosquito bites, but can look pinkish-red after itching or after I apply lotion. I went to a doctor (not a dermatologist mind you) and she quickly said it could be psoriasis, and to just keep them moisturized.  But everything I read about psoriasis says red itchy rashes that turns scaly, and I've never see anything (information or pictures) that shows psoriasis to start out as blister/mosquito-like bumps.

I've also been getting smaller callus-like bumps/areas on the sides of my fingers, that don't itch. I moisturize them with aquaphor ointment and then they disappear.  Not sure if they're related to the elbow bumps, but they don't look or feel the same.

Do the bumps on my elbows sound like psoriasis?
42 Responses
Avatar universal

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes skin redness and irritation. Most persons with psoriasis have thick, red skin with flaky, silver-white patches. In many cases, psoriasis goes away and then flares up again repeatedly over time. This condition is not contagious.  The redness is most often seen on the elbows, knees, and trunk, but can appear anywhere on the body. The skin patches or dots may be:
pink-red in color , dry and covered with silver, flaky skin and raised.

Eczema , on the other hand, is a form of dermatitis or inflammation of the epidermis.It may present with  redness, skin edema, itching and dryness, crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing, or bleeding.  In contrast to psoriasis, eczema is often likely to be found on the flexor aspect of joints or outer skin of elbow or knuckles.

Another condition that needs to be mentioned is scabies which is due to a mite and  also presents as rash on the webs of the fingers,flexing surfaces of the wrists and armpits.Itching is more intense at night. This is also present with  other members of the household since this can spread easily.

It would be best to have your lesions evaluated by a dermatologist to determine the cause. A complete medical history and physical examination is important in reaching a diagnosis. A skin biopsy may also be done to determine the cause. Try to keep the area clean and dry. Avoid scratching to prevent secondary infection.

Take care and regards.
Avatar universal
Recently my skin of the elbows became very red and itchy. It is already 3 days the skin is not back to normal. I think this is an allergy but don't know the reason. I don't have anything similar in my knees and other places.
Can you advice me anything? Is it a sign of psoriasis?
Avatar universal
Hi, I have red itchy bumps on my elbows, along with the red callus like bumps on the side of my fingers, which don't itch, they hurt actually. This has happened to me a handful of times before and I have no idea what it could be. I recently got a nasty sinus cold and have been taking over the counter meds. I'm wondering if that could possibly have anything to do with it since the bumps appeared while I have been sick. Any advice would be great!!
Avatar universal
I've had a similar condition for the last three years: itchy bumps on outer elbows, skin-colored small bumps on sides of fingers. I visited a dermatologist who recommended anti-histamines which had some positive effect. The bumps on the sides of the fingers seem to be triggered by summer heat. But they also increase in number whenever my elbows become more effected and itchy.
Avatar universal
I have the exact same thing. Itchy bumps (just like insect bites) on my elbows (and sometimes knees) over about 2 months they have intermittently appeared then disappeared on their own. I have also had intermittent skin coloured bumps, smaller than those on my elbows, along the sides, and on the joints, of my fingers. They don't itch or hurt, and eventuallu fade. The bumps on my elbows and knees are not a rash, they're definite bumps. Weird. I'll let you know if I find anything out
Avatar universal
Dyshidrotic Eczema....I've been getting this a lot lately this summer. They're not quite sure what causes it, but heat seems to exacerbate the condition as does stress.
Avatar universal
same condition! went to the doctor today and they were puzzled to what it was. I first got the bumps on my elbows a few months ago and i thought it was from the tanning bed. They eventually faded away. Recently  I started getting them again this time they're 10x worse. They're all over my fingers and spreading down my hands, elbows & inside of elbows, they're on my hips, knees & back of knees, also have a few on my feet. They're starting to get painful
Avatar universal
Wow, me too. Ive been looking for an explanation of this condition on line for a few years now. The bumps on your fingers are small water like blisters that come and go right? and those on your elbows are harder more permanent bumps that flare and go red from scratching... possibly acting up in Heated environments more?

Now seen as there is no apparent body of knowledge on this condition I propose we cross refererance anything we could all suspect as causes and see what we have in common?

@liv908 - I have never bee nin a sun bed so I dont think thats it.

Heat ?
I tend to get more when IM swaeting - eg office environment, I clear up with exposure to sunlight in the summer mostly

Foreign Virus/Bacteria?
THey first appeared for me during a summer visit to Turkey and have been with me since.

Reacttion to some kind of food or drink or shampoo ?
I falre up noticablly worse for no apparent reason sometimes... I have not been able to pin down what the trigger is

Avatar universal
After reading this post, and doing more research on my husbands condition...we found the cause of his itchy, painful bump and blisters that appeared on his elbows, knees, forehead, butt, and fingers.  I had to come back here to post our findings to help others.

He went to 4 doctors (Dermatologists and allergists). None of them tested his skin.  All they did was prescribe a steroid cream... that did not work.  

One doc told him it was eczema...another said psoriasis...another told him it was shingles.  Even I knew it wasn't those things!   Why can't doctors just say that they DON'T KNOW what it is... instead of making something up?

After searching for weeks online, I finally found a picture of it.  It was shown as Dermatitis Herpetiformis !!  I printed the picture and he took the pic to the doc the next day and told him that he wanted his skin tested for Dermatitis Herpetiformis.  The test came back POSITIVE!

Cause = GLUTEN!!  

He never had any stomach issues and that is why the docs never thought of it.  A very small percentage only have Dermatitis Herpetiformis without the stomach issues.  He went on a gluten diet and the sores are gone.  He can tell when he eats gluten, because he gets some sores back.  

He was prescribed Dapsone for times when he accidentally eats gluten and gets the sores. The Dapsone helps.  Since he avoids gluten, he doesn't need the Dapsone very often.

I just had to post this, so others won't have to suffer with docs that are clueless.  You are your own best advocate  ; - )

Best of Luck!
I have the same thing, only on my elbows and fingers. My doctor never touched me, just looked at it and said it  is psorisis like eczema! I will do away with the gluten and see what happens. Thank you for sharing!
Avatar universal
I have had the same blister-like rash mentioned by others for a couple months now.  I finally made an appointment with my doctor for next week. i have researched psoriasis, exzema, etc., but after looking up the pictures and information for Dermatitis Herpetiformis, I am convinced that this will be the diagnosis.   Will have  my doctor test for it.  Thanks for posting your findings!!
Avatar universal
I have the same symptoms you all describe. Mine may be a bit milder.
I have redish flat disks that have formed on my elbows (slightly itchy, mild pain when bumped) and slightly red, mostly skin colored small bumps on the knuckles and top side of my fingers and hands. This condition usually only last 1-3 weeks for me and very rarely. I've had this happen maybe 3-4 times in my life.
I thought that it may perhaps be Dermatitis Herpetiformis and mentioned that when i saw my dermatologist today.  Usually when my immune system is weakened by something else (strep throat in this case).
It was my first time seeing a dermatologist and she was (luckily) really knowledgeable. She thought i didn't have Dermatitis Herpetiformis because it wasn't as irritated or filled (like water blisters). She then showed me this massive book and identified my condition as Granuloma annulare. It can look similiar to Dermatitis Herpetiformis but is caused by something unknown, doesn't cause any health risks and is generally cosmetically icky but not hazardous by any means. She prescribed a strong steroid skin cream that may help but told me it is left up to my body to correct itself.
Hope this helps some of you.
Avatar universal
I am 66 years old. I used to get itchy bumps between my fingers. My aunt was an LPN. She told me this was called "Tetter" and was a sympathetic symptom to athlete's foot. Sure enough, whenever I got the itchy bumps between my fingers, I would treat my feet for athlete's foot and the bumps would go away -- almost overnight. I don't know about the psoriasis/eczema issue, but thought this might help some with the "bumpy fingers."
Avatar universal
I want to second the post on DH - the gluten rash, they call it.  Check your family history and see if people have celiacs (gluten intolerance), fibromyalgia, schogrens, chronic fatigue, and any other auto-immune disorders.  If they're older, or even younger, they may have never been diagnosed with these things - but if they've had mysterious mood, pain, allergenic, or reproductive issues that were never identified, that could point to auto-immune, which could point to celiacs.  These things tend to clump together, and if anyone in your family has issues with these things, they could have celiacs too - which means you're at increased risk (celiacs like many of these is genetic). Just to give you an idea, my dad has fibromyalgia, my mom has schogrens, my aunt has fibromyalgia, schogrens, and celiacs and my grandmother probably had at least celiacs, but could also have had some of these other conditions.

A rash like the ones being described here could be a symptom of celiacs disease.  Incidentally, it does show up in people without intestinal pain - but in 90% of people who get this rash, intestinal damage has already occurred, so it's a really good idea to get a biopsy of it specifically to test for celiacs, just to be safe.  From what I understand, they do a quick biopsy and can tell you whether you have celiacs or not.  I'll be going through this whole process with my doctor as of tomorrow - I'm only 26, but there's a big history in my family of all this stuff, and the rash plus other issues such as major, uncharacteristic mood swings, lethargy, irregular periods, short term memory issues, vitamin deficiencies, regular low grade fevers, etc. could point to an auto-immune issue, and I want to get checked out.  

Basically, get a red, raised, patchy rash or one that's flesh-colored or with pink little bumps (can turn purplish after scratched), and that recurs especially on the outside of the elbows, knees, and buttocks, checked for celiacs.  97% of people with celiacs disease are undiagnosed right now in this country.
Avatar universal
In response to the original post and to rob277x,
     I have had similar itchy bumps on my elbows and on my knuckles. They are small patches of bumpy skin on the outsides of those two jointed areas. They do not look anything like the pictures I have found of Dermatitis Herpetiformis, Granuloma annulare, nor do I have the multi-system wide symptoms described by addy331. No, my itchy little bumps are irritating but fairly benign and are held to just those two areas of my body like most of the other people who have replied in this forum.
     Also, I am a pharmacist who just recently graduated and can tell you that steroid creams like cortisone will work on nearly any itchy skin lesion despite the etiology of the offending agent. It simply calms your immune response in the area of application. The immune response is nearly always the cause of the itching not the offending agent such as shampoo or a fungus. Therefore the steroid cream will stop the itching but either not help (shampoo) or make it worse (fungus). However, itchy skin issues that do not have an obvious cause (insect bites) will usually either self resolve or cannot be helped anyway, such as an allergy to an unknown agent or an agent that cannot be avoided. This is why doctors frequently prescribe the steroid cream because it should at least make you feel better AND because no one can know exactly what is causing the itching without doing an unreasonably high priced investigation into your problem. It would be like asking the FBI to investigate my missing sock. In the case of the people above who have described skin conditions far worse than those of the original post, the investigation is obviously warranted and those people should also check into other forums that have much more useful information than this post for those advanced conditions.
Back to the original issue, I too have recently moved from a cooler climate into a very hot climate and began to see the bumps within a week of arrival. I have also recently experienced a sunburn. Nothing seems to help the itching except scratching. I am an otherwise healthy male in my mid 30’s who is not on any chronic medications and has not recently changed any personal hygiene brands. The only difference that I can think of is the change of temperature and humidity. It is both hotter and drier where I live now. - JB
Avatar universal
my fiance has had these problems for a couple of months now.they are all over his elbows some on his hands and arms.i seen one on his ear.im really tired of them appering and every time we go to the dr they give us the same thing.its just time to move to a dermatologist because this is weird and very stressfull.
Avatar universal
i've got a similar thing, redness rash on my elbows ans bumpy like blisters on the side of my hands and sometimes on my palm too. I don't have it all the time but always comes up around july. After googling it i couldnt find anything for my elbows but found out what was wrong with my hands I think..

If you type in 'dyshifrotic eczema' to google images too.
Anyways anyone know what is best to calm it and make it less noticable i've been using E45 and it's not done much.
Avatar universal
can u tell what cream to use for this itching redness on my elbows
Avatar universal
My symptoms are similar to many detailed here (innocuous, itchy elbow and ankle bumps that scale and seep when feverishly scratched; a smattering of these on this sides of my fingers), but mine seem to be exacerbated by red meat consumption.
Avatar universal
For the past year and 1/2 I have been getting red then ITCHY bumps, which then callous and peel, on the right side of my ring finger from the knuckle down toward the webbing (only on left hand).  I have also gotten the itchy bumps on my outer elbows about 4 times or so... but doesn't always happen when ring finger is acting up!  People laugh because this started happening right around my 7th anniversary of marriage...literally the "7 year itch".  Joking aside, it drives me nuts!  Dermatologist chalks it up to nickel allergy...but nickel in jewelry doesn't affect me on any other part of my body...or other fingers.  Steroid cream didn't work.  Can't wear my wedding ring most of the time...hate this and can't figure it out!
Avatar universal
The info that ya provided helped me understand that I'm not alone and I agree the doctors just say the same thing..I appreciate that u took the time to post about gluten I would of never thought but now I know wat I have to say to get tested as well thank u!!
Avatar universal
Does any of you have a history of tick bite or Lyme disease? My son started getting a similar rash on the external elbow joint, inside surface of knee joint, knuckles and side of fingers around the time he had a rash that looked like erythema migrans, a hallmark of early Lyme disease. He tested positive for Lyme. It seems like ticks can transmit more than just Lyme.
3205239 tn?1345511724
Thanks so much for your research and response!  You have helped me a lot!
Avatar universal
I too am having similar symptoms to the majority of you.

In my case, I moved to the much warmer New York for the summer and immediately got bumps on the sides of my knuckles (the areas where the knuckles naturally touch each other).  I thought I contracted warts but now am not so sure.  It seems like they would come back every couple of months and were related to the an increase in the temperature.

More recently, I have been getting itchy bumps on the outside of my elbow.  I would liken the bumps to a mild poison oak/ivy rash in both feeling and look (perhaps an auto immune reaction?).  They do not look like some of the solutions that have been written here.  These started a year after the itchy knuckles would come and go and occurred immediately after a trip to Thailand.  They also come and go, but I have no idea what would cause the reaction (as opposed to the knuckles which do seem to spring up in warmer weather).  I wouldn't have guessed the knuckles and elbow rash were related, but now, who knows.

I am a 26 years old male, just giving my testimony.  Hopefully someone will give us more insight.

Avatar universal
Digging into a really old thread here, but it sounds like what I experience.

I've been getting dishydrotic eczema for years, stress can worsen it, but it seems to me that I get it from exposure to various liquid chemicals, such as pvc cleaner, and xylene; and dry metal salts in products such as concrete, and alum; and other drying agents like calcium chloride (CaCl2), sodium sulfate (Na2SO4), calcium sulfate (CaSO4) and magnesium sulphate (MgSO4).

I could be totally off base with my hypothesis, but I've worked with a wide variety of materials, and chemicals.  I suspect the eczema is a reaction to some sort of toxic overload, or allergies from over-exposure (possibly a metal/salt allergy).

My trouble spots are on my left foot (rarely, but occasionally the right), both of my hands between the fingers, and my elbows, knees, and shoulders.

My left foot will blister either small pustules all over the sole of the foot; or it will blister and peel, then dry out and get scaly.  Happens every time I work with: grout, concrete, drywall and it's compound (thinset).

My hands frequently have small flesh colored bumps between my fingers (rarely if ever on the thumbs), twice in the last 5 or so years, I have had the blisters break, and scale over.  I had to coat my hands with lotion, and wear gloves because they were so painfully crusted.   Also occurs specifically with, but not limited to: grout, concrete, and thinset.

My knees, and elbows get small skin colored/red bumps only on the thickened exterior sides.  (no idea what triggers this).

I occasionally get small painful blisters on my stomach, and on the back, front, and top of my shoulders.

I am lactose & nut intolerant possibly more food allergies that I haven't narrowed down yet.  I have chronic nasal allergies, digestive, and bowel discomfort on top of the skin conditions.
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