Being worried about daily routines is natural and part and parcel of life. However, when things in our lives go wrong, stress can happen.
Stress, such as emotional stress, is not only a mental state but it can manifest physically in our body as well. As it suppresses the immune system, it can cause various problems ranging from muscle aches to headaches and pains all over our body. In other instances, stress may manifest into visual signs such as stress bumps on fingers, hands and/or other areas of your body which can be unsightly and uncomfortable, though most of the time, they are not serious.
Causes and Treatments of Stress Bumps on Fingers
There are different types of stress bumps on your fingers, with different causes, diagnoses and treatments.
The most common type of stress bumps on fingers are called hives and this is often associated with stress, which causes hormonal changes in the body, in turn causing the skin to become more sensitive and reactive, resulting in such manifestation on the fingers and hands.
Officially referred to as urticaria, these are skin lesions that appear round and reddishly fierce on your fingers. They may become inflamed and itchy or painfully uncomfortable though usually, such lesions may heal within two to three hours.
When the immune system is not balanced, it sends histamine, a chemical found in some of the body’s cells, to fight off the cause of the illness, and in this case, it’s stress. But histamine is not able to get rid of stress, and so hives and eczema appear on your hands and fingers, and these are what we usually refer to as stress bumps on fingers. Such lesions can also be caused by sunlight, different kinds of fabrics, changes in temperature and some foods.
Although hives can resolve by itself within a few hours, chronic hives can last up to six weeks or longer. These hives can be a one-time condition or they can also be recurring if you do not seek treatment and/or the cause of the disease is not alleviated.
When hives become stress bumps on fingers, they can be tricky to treat due to the location because you usually need to use your fingers very often. Some treatments include antihistamines such as Zyrtec or Benadryl, since histamine is the chemical that triggers the stress bumps, cool compresses or ice packs to reduce the inflammation, topical ointments such as hydrocortisone creams, or natural topicals like aloe vera to relieve the itching and pain. You can also choose to protect your fingers with a glove after applying these creams or ointments.
If the situation gets worse, consult an allergy doctor immediately.
Dyshidrosis (Dyshidrotic Eczema / Pompholyx)
Dyshidrosis, or dyshidrotic eczema, a skin condition and a type of eczema, causes small, fluid-filled and itchy blisters to appear on your fingers, particularly the sides, and also on the palms of your hands. In rare cases, they may also appear below your feet.
The blisters, which are small, tapioca grain-like clear fluid-filled bumps, can cause you to suffer from intense itching or pain and this will last about two to four weeks. Once the blisters are dry, your skin may become very scaly. Normally, these painful blisters will recur even before your skin heals completely from the previous round of blisters. In more severe cases, the small blisters may merge to form bigger blisters.
Dyshidrosis tends to recur fairly regularly for months or years.
Although the exact cause of dyshidrosis is not known, it is often associated with risk factors such as emotional or physical stress, exposure to certain metals such as cobalt and nickel, sensitive skin, or it can also be caused by other skin diseases or skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis, or eczema, skin infections, seasonal allergies like hay fever and nasal allergies, bacterial infections or even other medical conditions like blood disorders. Sometimes, stress bumps on fingers can also be caused by getting your hands wet in dirty and wet environments or having direct contact with metals or materials such as cement.
Dyshidrosis is also more common in females and in people under 40 years old.
Your treatment plan for this condition includes over-the-counter or home options such as antihistamines, dietary changes and lotions, petroleum jelly, topical creams or ointments that you can apply on the affected areas of your fingers or body. Itchy bumps can also be treated with anti-itching creams or antiviral medications.
Corticosteroid pills like prednisone or injections can be prescribed by your doctor if your condition is more severe. He may also recommend light therapy such as ultraviolet light treatments.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
Shingles, a painful skin rash, usually appear on your chest and back but occasionally, it can also appear as bumps on your fingers and/or hands. Though shingles usually include rashes and blisters, a mild case of shingles may include red rashes without blisters. Though some severe symptoms of shingles may include headaches, fever or extreme fatigue, mild cases of shingles usually do not cause such symptoms.
This condition is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox – varicella-zoster. If you’ve already had chickenpox, the virus will stay in your body and become inflamed later on, especially when the immune system is compromised during stressful times.
Risk factors increase when you are over 60 years old, had chickenpox before 1 years old or is on constant medication due to certain pre-existing diseases or conditions.
Shingles usually clear up on its own within three to four weeks, although you can also consult a doctor to shorten the duration. He may prescribe you antiviral medications such as acyclovir, famciclovir or valacyclovir to reduce the pain and reduce the chances of it causing other issues in your body.
Managing Stress Bumps on Fingers and Hands
Stress bumps on your fingers and hands are indeed irritating as you constantly need to use them. It is hence important to identify the cause of your illness so that you can effectively treat it. If you have already ruled out external factors or other allergies and issues, the cause of these stress bumps could just be stress-induced skin conditions.
As a result, managing your stress levels and monitoring increases in anxiety may be the best solution for you. Avoid additional stress factors in your daily life, and try to identify the important stressors and use appropriate solutions to treat your condition.
These may include a healthy diet, over-the-counter treatments, topical medications, antifungal medications and/or diet control and therapy. Skin care is also of utmost importance – find out whether you have dry skin or oily skin, or sensitive skin and then use appropriate skin care products for that particular skin type. You can also choose to engage in relaxing, daily activities such as massage, exercises such as swimming or jogging, or a hobby such as knitting or sewing to induce a sense of calm and inner peace, hence keeping your condition under control.