Avatar universal

red bumps on fingers

For the last 20 years I have gotten small red bumps on the sides of my fingers.  They don't blister.  They start out as one or two and then I might get a few more and they seem to cluster up on only the sides of my fingers.  They are not itchy but they are sore to the touch when you run your finger over them.  It feels like you have a splinter.  They are slightly raised and red in color.  They will stay for varying lengths of time and then dry up and go away.  Usually not for more than a couple of weeks.  I may go for months and months and not get them and then all of a sudden they show up.  I have been to various dermatologists over the years and they seem puzzled and never seem to know what they are.
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1797234 tn?1315625704
I believe I actually have read every posting so far on this "red bumps on the fingers" mystery. Most of your posts have been very enlightening and even comforting to know I'm not the only one w this lifelong mystery. Although, I wonder if some postings are not from people suffering from something completely different, even after they state they 'have exactly the same thing'.
I began getting these little bumps off & on since I was 8. Obscure little red bump, feels like a "sticker", very painful to touch when it 1st appears then less over time until it disappears after a week or 2. I panicked over them as a kid until my mom (who was always into health food stores and reflexology, before it was "cool") looked at them and said, "Eh, they're just nerve bumps."
I am now 42. I've had sometimes a year to even a decade or more in between and I only Googled this for the 1st time because they recently reappeared. Again, near a joint of the fingers of my right hand. 1st, and worst! at the pad of my right hand near the "pointer" finger (now gone and just a small white spot, like a tiny blister that healed). 2nd bump appeared below the top joint of the same finger (now almost gone) Next one came as the 1st 2 were healing, near the cuticle of my right thumb. Ouch! The next one is below the middle joint of my middle finger. The last is below the middle joint of my pinkie. I say "last" loosely since I can actually see the beginnings of more just under the surface of the pads of my right hand & fingers which may or may not become painful.

I am Caucasian, female, No antibiotics for at least 2 years or more. Haven't been recently sick. I avoid wheat and sugar wherever I can but am not strict on that. I live in a hot, humid climate but they also appeared back when I lived in a cold, dry climate too.

I assume mine are triggered by stress since my skin seems to be my personal "stress barometer".  Makes sense to me though, since I read somewhere that skin issues have to do w inner conflicts coming to the surface...as in something or someone is bugging you. And physiologically speaking, the right hand is the one we give away our energies with. But I'm not a physiologist or a psychologist. I will say though I've been thru several, more severe, long term periods of stress in my life and they never made their personal appearance. Sometimes it was something new...and definitely worse! Go figure.
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Avatar universal
I too have this same issue - tiny red bumps that are painless unless you put pressure on them then they feel like splinters. I usually only get one at a time (I have one now), and they are usually years apart. I have to second zoe's sentiment that it is linked to sugar intake. I have been on an antibiotic that has a bad interaction with alcohol, so I haven't been able to have my nightly beer, which means I've had an ice cream sandwich instead.  So it has been a week of higher than normal sugar intake, and there it is.
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Avatar universal

Dishydrosis may be the likely diagnosis here given that there are no redness, tingling or pain in the affected areas. Dishydrosis may be itchy when a dermatitic component is present. If this is present, the itch scratch cycle may cause excoriations and weeping in the area as it affects even normal skin.

I do not think this is infectious although it may be a chronic inflammatory condition. If you have previous history of eczematous skin conditions before then this may be something dermatitic.
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Avatar universal
I would send a picture but I don't see where you do that.  It is slightly red but even the area around it is also red...like dry skin..dishpan hands.  It doesn't itch but when pressed on it feels like a splinter and is a little sore.
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Avatar universal
Hi Vanessa,

I actually get the exact same thing you do: Tiny red bumps on my fingers (often though near the joints of my fingers like my knuckles but not exclusively). I've actually just started getting them around my elbows too. They're not particularly noticeable to anyone but me. They don't really hurt (unless I push on them) and they don't really itch (maybe a tiny bit once and a while).

I've had them my whole life and they don't seem to be contagious. They can disappear for months and then reappear all of a sudden. They usually reappear when Im stressed out (like now, as Im studying for the Bar exam and under a bit of stress). And, my Dermatologist is stumped.

Just to add something here, I dont think I've ever had the chicken pox either but I was vaccinated for it last year. So, I feel like its not related. Also the dishydrosis just doesnt seem like the right fit but who knows?

If you find anything more out, I'm all ears.

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Avatar universal
Hi Vanessa,

And again... I think your description fits the sort of lumps I get on my fingers.  They don't come on the palmar surface of my fingers, just the sides and tops... and never on the back of the hand, only just to the joint where the finger meets the hand (MCP joint).  They measure between ~2mm and ~8mm in size (usually 3-4mm), are red and slightly raised, and aren't filled with fluid.  Clumping around the joints is more likely than on the shaft of the phalanges.  They're painful (well... uncomfortable) to touch or rub, and usually disappear within a couple of weeks.  I've had perhaps up to 20 episodes of this happening in the last 7-8 years.

None of the medico's I've chatted to have a clear diagnosis.  I've had chicken pox (some 18 years ago), and tend to think that mine come on when I'm under stress (physical or emotional)... usually if I've trained really hard (running / biking).  They tend to crop up two to five days after the peak stress / tiredness has been, and can number anywhere from three or four through to fifteen - twenty.

Anyway - hope this contribution helps.  If anyone has some ideas on a definitive diagnosis, I'd love to know!!


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Avatar universal

My name is Sarah and I'm 17. I have exactly what you say. Little reddish bumps on the sides of my fingers then on my joints of my fingers. They are really red but they give off a little pinkish tint that you can tell that they are there. It never itches but if you push on them it feels like little needles. They can get so badly around my joints that it hurts to bend my finger, open any bottle of any sort, grip a pencil, etc... we looked everything up but cant figure out what it is. It will go away then come back. I have gotten them before but not as bad as i have them now. Last time i have gotten them was over the summer. now i have them again and its about mid-march. At first i thought i was getting them because i touched something (like the lockers at my school), but I have never been sure. Im starting to get really desperate to find out what they are so i can get rid of them. I hate going to school then have to sit through the pain of holding a pencil. I love to draw and its my passion to go on with drawing. This just makes it hard to do so...

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Avatar universal
I read the first post by "rnhd123" and I have the EXACT same issue with my right hand.  I noticed it back in November and thought it was a splinter so I dug around in my finger with needle trying to get whatever it was out...but eventually realized nothing was in there.  I went to the dermatologist and at first he thought it could be eczema and he prescribed me some ointment.  However that did not seem to help...then he thought it could be perniois (Chilblains) because it is currently cold here in Ohio and I wasn't always wearing gloves outside.  I am supposed to go back in the summer time to see how it is doing.  

I really don't think it is either of those two things.  It is only on my right hand on my fingers (not my thumb).  I mostly have them appear on my ringer finger and my middle finger, and they mostly appear above the knuckle on the sides of the fingers.  They feel like splinters.  I am really surprised that my dermatologist couldn't diagnose it and I'm feeling pretty desperate at this point too!  I am a 32 year old male and don't want to deal with this annoying thing for the rest of my life.  

I will add, the degree of stress I have been under for the last few years has gone up...not sure how that would impact it, but from what I've read, I guess it can sometimes factor in.

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Avatar universal
I too have noticed these little red bumps on my fingers as you describe.  I could go for months or even years without them, and then they appear again, seemingly out of nowhere.  I've seen my doctor about this and they didn't really know what could be causing it.  I also saw a naturopath and he says they are due to an overgrowth of yeast/bad bacteria in my intestines (from eating too much refined wheat and sugar mostly).  He put me on a program to help clean out my intestines and then replace the good bacteria.  I've done this a couple times now, and both times it seemed to clear up the problem, and I then I wouldn't notice them again (for years) until I start eating too much wheat and sugar.  I'm not 100% positive this is the cause, but I'm willing to cut back on wheat and sugar as it really seems to help.
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Avatar universal
I have just recently begun suffering from the same ailment.  These small red bumps/sores come so quickly that I will wake up in the morning with as many as 4 new ones on my hand.  I only ever get them on my right hand and they persist for weeks at a time until finally they fade away.  They cluster at the joints of my knuckles, mostly on the inside of my hand and between my fingers.  Its so painful for me to bend my fingers and move my hand.  I work in a laboratory and wearing tight fitting gloves for long hours and pipetting is becoming increasingly more difficult.  
At first I thought they were from something that I had touched, like a newly flowered bush outside my apartment, but even after I started avoiding it they continue to appear.  
I have not yet been to see a doctor about this because I don't know if when I get there they will still be present.  
What could I do to make the pain subside? - any ideas?

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Avatar universal
For the last few years I have had these little bumps show up for a little while and then go away.  Similar to all of you, they show up on the same fingers/hands near the joints.  Up until this episode, I only got them one at a time, but this time I have three clustered together and it's a lot more irritating.  I have had a lot of stress lately and just increased my exercise program a lot, so maybe it has to do with that?  Anyway, if anyone finds out more info on this, I would love to know how to avoid/get rid of it.

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Avatar universal
I too have these bumps.  I've been trying to find something that would explain why I get them.  But it certainly seems like it is stress.  I don't think the wheat causes them b/c I am gluten intolerant and have not had any wheat in three months and I have just recently gotten a new bout of bumps.  Mine also only show up on the index and middle fingers on my right hand.  It's really strange.  It's even more strange that no one has found a dermatologist who has any idea what it could be.  I do have a wart that is on the same hand that I've had for 8 years...it will NOT go away...very annoying.  I wonder if this has to do with HPV?  Do any of you all get warts on or around your hands/fingers?
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Avatar universal
Me also, I have been getting these for about 5 years, once mentioned it to a doc in passing and she was stumped. Im now 25. They come and go with anything of up to 6 months inbetween but once I have one more seem to follow very easily. this is especially after opening stiff bottles or carrying shopping bags that sit in the crook of my knuckles. they are always around the finger joints and a little tender to run your finger over.
I am worried it is the onset of a nodular arthritis as it runs in the family and as a piano teacher would be a great nuisance to say the least!
any input from anyone appreciated
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Avatar universal
I have the same exact bumps.  On my left sides of my index and middle finger and only on my right hand.  It's painful to hold a pen and write.  They have come and gone over the years.  I would like to find a treatment but don't have the time to go on a wild goose chase with doctors.  If any of you have found a way to treat this, please respond!
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Avatar universal
I have the same problem, with a few differences.
The red spots aren't limited to the joints or sides of my fingers, rather they can appear anywhere on my palm or the underside of my fingers.

I've had this years ago but with just a couple of spots, however, last winter I got dozens on my hands.  I started using "Badger Balm" and they seemed to go away. I doubt there's a connection, though.

Last week the red spots came back. I had perhaps a dozen total, across both hands, and then last night I used a weedwacker. The vibrations from the tool made it feel like I had grains of sand trapped under my skin--VERY uncomfortable. And now this morning, I can count at least 100 red spots across both palms. The stress directly on my hands definitely exacerbated the problem. In fact, right after using the weedwacker, you could look at my hand at an angle and see the dozens of small bumps.

I type, write and edit for a living, if the problem persists at this level it could be quite debilitating.

Has anyone here tried cortisone creams, anti-histamines or oral prednisone? Those are all treatments I've seen mentioned elsewhere on the Net. I'll be trying at least one of them very soon as I can't stand this. Elsewhere online, I've also seen that stress and anxiety can bring these red spots up or make it worse. Anyone experience that?

Regarding background: I did have a couple of warts on my hands when I was a child (more than 20 years ago). Those were removed by a dermatologist with liquid nitrogen and cutting and have never come back in any form.
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Avatar universal
I have the same exact problem as you do rnhd123..I've been to the doctor about them as well..
I was reading you all's conversation and notice "chicken pox" being brought up quite a few times and that you don't remember having it.. Well, when I was young I am for certain I did have chicken pox and it was horrible! I also had the measles 5 or 6 times as well. Doctors say that isn't normal but it happened. So I don't really think these bumps are associated with chicken pox..but that is only my opinion.

I'm 19 and have had this problem with bumbs on the sides of my fingers for as long as I can remember..
I am starting to believe it is from stress because it seems like everytime I get them something "bad" or "hectic" has happened in my life.. Just two days ago my chihuahua gave birth to puppies..I was a nervous wreck the entire night...The next morning when I woke up..There they were just a couple of little red bumbs..its been a day since then and more have appeared..They are pretty painful..Especially when you have to take off a ring or something and it scratches across them..

If any one finds out what they are please post your answers :)) I would greatly appreciate it.
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Avatar universal
It’s very hard to know for sure what could be the cause; the symptoms are very much alike between many diseases. Therefore, I think it’s very important to be very specific when describing how it happened has it might help to make a differential (I know you described pretty well but consider this), for instance, try to answer the following question…
When did you notice the lesion?
It started like a mosquito bite? Or not?
Did the lesion fell like burning, itchy, sore? Or not?  For how long?
Did it hurt when you moved your finger?  Or not?
Did your finger get swollen?or not?  For how long?
Has it spread to other fingers?
Has it changed color?
What makes it worst? (pain, etc.)
What makes it better?
Where did you first see it? (knuckles, between knuckles, next to the nail or away, etc)
Is it like below the skin, above the skin?
What medication have you used in the past 6 months?
Do you have a chronic disease that you are aware of? (Ulcerative Colitis, Chrons Disease, Atopic dermatitis, Psoriasis, etc)
What about Herpes? (have ever had it on your lips)
Did you have flu like symptoms, with the occurrence of your problem?
Do you have a pet?
And so on…
The Idea is to know if it is infectious, autoimmune even malignancy
If it is infectious there is always a treatment, if it is autoimmune probably there isn’t but at least you’ll know what it is, and maybe you can get something for the symptoms.
There are some many things your doctor has to know just to be able to have a clue…

By the way IM NOT A DOCTOR… so this is just an opinion of what you could do…
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1018786 tn?1251362163
hi all
let me introduce my little opinion,
it may be mild grade of dermatotmystosis which is exagerated by stress.
OR may be sort of peripheral insufficiency or neuropathy.
OR may be anything else due to stress
MAY U WILL LIKE ZINC TAB to relieve mood instability
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Avatar universal
So, I see I'm not alone. I'm currently having a flare up on the finger bumps. it's only happened one other time and went away in a couple of weeks. The doc was stumped back then, told me it was dermatitis...which I know it was not. The bumps cluster on the sides of my fingers & my thumbs, more around the knuckle joints. My index fingers are definitely the worst. The weather is very cold right now and my skin is extremely dry. As others have mentioned, I am also under an extreme amount of stress the last 10 days...fender-bender with my car, financial pressure, work issues... I'm also pregnant. I noticed the bumps when I woke up yesterday morning. They make the knuckle joints stiff and it feels like the skin is stretched tight. It's hard to hold a pen or open a jar, etc. This morning they are definitely worse, more of them and hurts to bend my fingers. Nothing on my hands or feet, fingers & thumbs only.  
The last time I had this someone suggested "Fifths Disease" which is a common childhood virus. There was an outbreak at our local schools at the time. It's one of those illnesses that if you fail to get as a child, can hit you really hard as an adult. It really seemed to fit my symptoms at the time...but you only get it once.
The stress link is interesting. I was under a lot of stress the first time it appeared as well. It sure seems to me that this is some kind of auto-immune response. I was sick last week...headaches, body aches, congestion, etc. I suppose this could be part of a viral response.  It does NOT seem to be a skin issue that can be treated topically. It annoys me to be told this by the "experts" at the clinic.  I'll have to post back and report the duration this time.
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Avatar universal
Okay okay. I heard some answers here that are just not posible for this person who posted. Because she said she had this for 20 years!
What stays around for 20 years and doesn't get worse, but is almost always persistant to the same level or so?
Allergic contact dermatitis. And it will be around until she dies. Because it never goes away.
I mean my God! Look at the doctors answer. Here I will paste it here and then break it down. Bumps on the fingers may have herpetic whitlow, dishydrosis or pompholyx and fungal infections as differentials. Warts and molluscum may also be considered however, these are flesh or skin colored and may be excluded in your case. This may be herpetic whitlow. Herpetic whitlow is caused by HSV type 1 and may be present for a certain period of time. It may persist and recur given the right triggers eg stress, certain activities and extreme temperatures. Herpetic lesions are burning and tingling in character and may readily disappear without scarring.

I suggest you have this seen by an infectious disease specialist.

Have you had chicken pox before?

Lets start at the top and work down. Okay, remember she had this for 20 years.
The first 5 are not a 20 year thing for one, so I will end there on those. Warts are flesh colored like she said, so that rules that out.
Herpetic lesions are burning and tingling so it can't be that.
Infectious disease would have worsened or killed her by 20 years later.
And chicken pox don't last 20 years either. Every thing she said was not even worth putting up.
But it is the standard answer for bumps on fingers. Copied and pasted to everyone who has bumps. A generic answer. And that is what doctors do.
With no regard to personal symptoms or conditions they are in. Or things the hands come in contact with.
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Avatar universal
I just went to a thrift store today and have never experienced these red bumps on my hands before. I was getting ready to go out and noticed how painful one was so i put neosporin on it and a bandaid and then noticed all of the others. Earlier today i went to a thrift store and was searching around for clothes, about an hour or so later i started developing small, but painful to the touch, red blisters on my fingers. I'm not sure what to do but they seem to be on many of my fingers and especially their joints. I spoke to my friend who says that she has them too, it seems to have something to do with what we touched today seeing as I was with her in the thrift store, hopefully it is just some sort of allergic reaction. I will let you know as my search progresses
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Avatar universal
Wow, I'm relieved to see there are so many of us with the same condition. I too have red bumps, mainly on my right hand along the sides of my fingers and around the finger joints. I thought they might be from my washing powder? Do any of you experience a burning sensation in the affected hand?  Mine too come and go. I've got a sinus infection at the moment, so maybe it is linked to low immunity?  
I haven't been to the DR about them yet, doesn't seem like they can shed any light on the matter either.
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Avatar universal
I am happy to find out that I am not the only one who has these bumps!! I have had them for at least 20 years of and on and no Dr has ever been able to tell me anything about them. I wa told they could be hormone related, but  the stress link makes a lot of sense.I have been under a lot of stress for awhile. Also, I did have chicken pox as a child if that makes a difference. I also disagree with the diagnosis of "contact dermatitis"...the answer for anything a Dr can figure out!
Has anyone found a treament for this, or is this a lifelong problem?
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145992 tn?1341345074
I just posted about this as well.  I have the very same thing happen.  They started to appear a couple of weeks ago and I've been researching them.  Last night I put hydrochortisone cream on the bumps.  They didn't go away but I didn't have anymore appear.  I'm not sure what it is either.
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