What are these teeny blisters on my thumb?
May 21, 2006 3:58 PM   Subscribe

Weird skin thing-- for the last month or so I've been getting these teeny tiny blisters on the pads of my thumbs and forefingers.

They aren't fluid-filled. The pad of my thumb will hurt for a day or two-- really sensitive to touch-- and then one or two little rings of dry skin will appear, like a pin-head-sized blister has popped. What's going on? Googling "tiny thumb blisters" turned up pages of dishydrosis or dyshidrosis which has fluid-filled, raised blisters. No fluid, no raised, and no itch, by the way. What is it?
posted by orangemiles to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Could it be some sort of fungus?
posted by MadamM at 4:19 PM on May 21, 2006

I suspect it is a fungus, as I've had the same thing (on the sides of my index finger and thumbs, particularly). After trying hydrocortisone cream to no effect off and on, I shrugged and tried some Tinactin. It cleared up within a couple of days, came back about 6 months later, I treated it again for a few days, and it hasn't been back since.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:48 PM on May 21, 2006

orangemiles, can you see the blisters as tiny dark dots a fair bit beneath the surface of the skin before they get sensitive and then turn into dry? This is interesting to me. I have blisters that sound much your description on the pad of the index finger of my left hand... they've come and gone in cycles since fall 2001.

The dermatoligist said dishydrotic excema as well, and I've never questioned it. Now looking at some of those photos, I'd have to say either the presentation can vary wildly or that's not what I've got.
posted by weston at 6:05 PM on May 21, 2006

A little more poking around reveals the presentation can indeed vary wildly... which isn't too surprising, given that it appears to be one of those things arrived at by "diagnosis of exclusion."

From here:
Possible etiologic factors such as atopy, contact allergy, irritation and fungal infections have to be ruled out before settling on the diagnosis idiopathic dyshidrotic eczema.
posted by weston at 6:29 PM on May 21, 2006

I, and other members of my family, get exactly this prior to and during the obvious symptoms of strep throat.
posted by Kickstart70 at 6:57 PM on May 21, 2006

herpetic whitlow?
posted by brandz at 7:03 PM on May 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

I get something similar when I'm around cats. Not on the *pads* of my fingers, but on the first knuckle of my right index finger.
posted by notsnot at 8:24 PM on May 21, 2006

I get the same thing occasionally, only on the sides of my thumb and middle finger. It's been coming and going since I was in my early teens. I visited a dermatologist about it, and he said they were stress-induced. He gave me some cream. The bumps went away. Now I don't even bother with the cream. They'll disappear when they want to.
posted by bjork24 at 8:29 PM on May 21, 2006

I have this right now, as it happens, it's on two or three fingers of each hand.

it feels like I have a sliver, but very deep in my skin... Several days to a week later, I'll get a circle of skin as if I had a blister. (though I never really have a blister of any sort)....

I don't have any help for you, though.
posted by hatsix at 9:45 PM on May 21, 2006

Google for "pitted keratolysis" images. Similar? Dissimilar? Any chance of photos of your fingers?
posted by herrdoktor at 9:57 PM on May 21, 2006

I get that, I forget what set it off lst time but it's a contact allergy for me. Some household cleaning things would cause it but also seemingly innocent things like certain types of hair products. Backtrack what you touched. I'd get it on and around my thumbs mostly.

Does the skin "flake" after it dries out?
posted by dabitch at 8:08 AM on May 22, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, all, for your insight. I'll try to post pix tonight-- check back if you're still riveted to the mystery of the spotted thumb.

Hatsix, that's it exactly. Feels like a few splinters in my thumb pad, and then a few days later a circle of skin.

Hubby thinks it's fungal since it's not oozy or anything. Might be stress induced since my body has wigged out on stress this year and produced all sorts of new indicators of high stress-- acid, lots of hives, and maybe now this.

Weston, no to the dark spots. Thanks, though.

I first noticed this after taking a hot pan out of the oven with a slightly inadequate hot pad. I thought maybe I burned down deep but not at the surface, but that's counterintuitive.

If I press down really hard on the pads of my thumbs I can feel and see some more bubbles down deep.

I think I'll get some tinactin tonight and try that. I'll keep you posted. Thank you all a lot! I really appreciate the help.
posted by orangemiles at 9:17 AM on May 22, 2006

My story is similar to bjork's - they appear on the side of my fingers due to stress (self-diagnosis). Happened on the inside of my right wrist recently, which was odd.
posted by deborah at 7:25 PM on May 22, 2006

ok. i've been lurking here for years, and this question finally inspired me to join up, because this is also my own little mystery. i've had it on and off for about 5 years (i am 28). i first got it in nyc, and attributed it to either an icky subway fungus or a cheap manicure. but it keeps coming back, and i've never transferred it to other parts of my body or my husband. i figure if it was as contagious as athlete's foot (the fungus theory), i would have passed it around by now. the other day i was talking about it to a woman i work with, who suggested it could be an allergic reaction to food. apparently wheat in particular is known to do this. i was on atkins last year for awhile, and can't remember having an episode then. my latest bout (still going on) began a few weeks ago, when i was traveling in france, eating BREAD every day, many times a day. so. i've decided to go wheat free for a week and see if it gets better. i just hope it's not gluten, because that's in everything. i'm a bit suspicious of all the food allergy talk lately--it seems like the latest version of having the vapours or somesuch. but if this makes my hands get better, i'm there. i think my symptoms are the same as yours--very teeny blisters, almost the same color as my skin, so it's difficult to see them unless you look closely. these are sensitive, slightly itchy, but not fluid-filled. this gives way to dry, cracked, peely skin. i've tried the anti-fungal cream, and the hydrocortisone as well. no good, other than the moisturizing properties. i'll be watching this thread with interest. good luck!
posted by apostrophe at 8:36 PM on May 22, 2006

Response by poster: Here's a pic of my forefinger. Look hard.
posted by orangemiles at 6:38 AM on May 23, 2006

Weird, I hadn't noticed until seeing this question, but my finger mini-blisters have gone away completely after ten years. I went on a course of antibiotics for acne recently, so I'm guessing that they must've treated the finger thing too...
posted by jack_mo at 11:45 AM on May 23, 2006

I looked, but really can't tell what's going on. I see a very small area of whitish skin that looks like what you're talking about, but I don't see any of the bubbling you mentioned.

Are you still having problems?

Sorry I can't be of further assistance.
posted by herrdoktor at 12:20 PM on May 25, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for asking, herrdoktor. That's really ALL that's going on-- little areas of white skin that appear a few days after the pain begins. No real "bubbling" in the spherical sense of the word, just flat circles of white skin that look like what happens after a blister pops-- not a fully-colored-in white circle, but a ring of white skin.

My husband's convinced I need to go to a dermatologist. I guess I will if it gets worse. From what people have said I'm thinking they'll just go away eventually.

And yes, I'm still having them. The day after I posted the question I had two new ones on my left thumb. Argh!
posted by orangemiles at 7:16 AM on May 26, 2006

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