Because the hands are in almost constant use, they are in regular contact with germs and other substances that can contribute to the development of pimple-like bumps and other skin conditions.
That said, pimples most commonly occur on the face, chest, and back. Pimple-like bumps affect the fingers, but pimples do not. A bump on the finger may be due to a cyst, wart, or insect bite.
In this article, we explore the causes of a pimple-like bump on the finger. We also list several potential treatment options.
A myxoid pseudocyst is a pimple-like bump that may develop on the finger.
Image credit: Huge Bananas, 2015
Myxoid pseudocysts, or digital mucous cysts, are smooth, noncancerous bumps that develop on the fingers. They occur close to the nail, near the farthest finger joint.
In some cases, these cysts can cause a groove to form on the nail. This usually happens if the cyst affects the cells that produce a portion of the nail.
These pseudocysts are more common in people with osteoarthritis (OA), with some research suggesting that 64–93% of people with OA have myxoid cysts.
Myxoid cysts are round or oval. They may be firm or filled with fluid. They are not typically painful, although the joint near them may be painful as a result of arthritis.
It is not necessary to treat a myxoid cyst unless it becomes bothersome. Often, the cyst regrows after treatment. Potential treatment options include:
- cryotherapy, which freezes the cyst
- laser or infrared coagulation, to burn off the cyst
- injection with a chemical, to shrink the cyst
- surgery, to cut off the cyst
There is no evidence to suggest that home remedies such as soaking or massaging are effective treatments for myxoid pseudocysts. Some options, such as draining the cyst at home, are not safe, as they increase the risk of infection.
Shaving or plucking hairs on the fingers can theoretically result in ingrown hairs, but this is not known to happen on the fingers. This condition occurs when the hair later grows back at an angle, which causes it to grow into the skin.
- a red bump that resembles a pimple
- swelling or redness
Some cases of ingrown hairs can cause an infection in the hair follicle. This is called folliculitis.
Ingrown hairs do not usually require treatment. However, the following remedies may relieve any pain or itching:
- applying a warm compress
- gently exfoliating the skin around the ingrown hair
Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, can cause itchy, fine, red bumps on the fingers, hands, face, and other parts of the body.
This condition affects around 15–20% of children and 1–3% of adults worldwide.
Eczema is usually a long term condition. Several factors, such as stress and weather, can trigger or exacerbate the symptoms.
Even though scratching the skin may provide relief in the short term, it can increase the risk of infection and worsen the eczema.
Medications and home remedies can treat eczema. Many people need a combination of both. Options include:
- nonprescription and prescription creams and ointments
- nonprescription and prescription oral medications
- light therapies
- regular application of moisturizing creams or ointments
- gentle, fragrance free skin products
- warm baths with colloidal oatmeal or baking soda
- protecting the lesions with nonirritating clothing and bandages, if necessary
- stress management
A viral skin infection may cause common warts to develop.
A wart is a small, noncancerous skin growth that is rare on the fingers or hands. Warts are most common among children and young adults.
These flesh colored bumps are usually easily distinguishable from other causes of bumps on the fingers, and they may also appear to have black dots in them.
Common warts develop as a result of a viral skin infection. They are typically harmless and often eventually clear up without treatment.
Some people treat their warts for cosmetic reasons, or if they become bothersome or painful.
Common warts typically resolve without treatment, though it may take a year or more.
Some potential treatment options include:
- salicylic acid, which peels off layers of the wart over time
- cryotherapy, which destroys the wart using liquid nitrogen
- laser treatment
- surgery, to cut away the wart
- intralesional candida injection or immunotherapy
There is not much scientific evidence to suggest that home remedies for warts are effective. Anecdotal evidence, however, has indicated that regularly applying some of the following to the wart may be helpful:
- apple cider vinegar
- tea tree oil
- crushed garlic
- clear nail polish
- duct tape
A ganglion cyst is a noncancerous lump that forms on the joints of the fingers, hands, or wrists.
Ganglion cysts are round or oval and contain a jelly-like substance. Unlike pimples, ganglion cysts can be uncomfortable, especially if they press on a nerve. They may also affect the movement of the joint.
Ganglion cysts that do not cause problems do not require treatment. Research suggests that 58% of cysts will disappear over time without treatment.
No treatment is necessary for painless cysts. If people do wish to treat the cyst, however, their options include:
- aspiration, wherein a healthcare professional will drain the cyst using a needle
- immobilization, which involves restricting the movement of the hand to help shrink the cyst and reduce nerve pressure
- surgery, to remove the cyst and its stalk
Fire ant bite
Fire ant bites can cause a painful, red bump to form. This bump will then turn into a blister or a pimple. Almost everyone who receives a fire ant bite will develop a pimple containing yellow fluid within 24 hours.
The pimples are very itchy, but they typically drain within 3 days. However, they may last for up to 1 week.
Other insect bites can cause similar symptoms to those of a fire ant bite.
Most insect bites will get better within a few minutes or hours, though it may take a week or more for the bump to completely disappear.
In the case of fire ant bites, the pain usually only lasts for a short period, although the itching may persist for several days.
To reduce pain and itching, people can try:
- using a cold compress
- applying steady pressure to the bite
- applying a thin layer of 1% hydrocortisone cream three times per day
- applying a paste of baking soda and water
- taking allergy medication, such as Benadryl
- using a nonprescription pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
If the bite develops an infection, antibiotics may be necessary.
Wearing gloves can help prevent skin issues by protecting hands from the elements.
To reduce the risk of experiencing other skin issues, people can:
- Practice good skin hygiene. For example, use warm (not hot) water when washing the hands, avoid excessive hand washing, and use a moisturizing hand cream or ointment after washing the hands.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Practice stress management techniques.
- Wear gloves to protect the hands from damage and exposure to the elements.
- Prevent ingrown hairs by using a sharp razor blade, wetting the skin before shaving, and shaving in the direction of hair growth.
There are many moisturizing hand creams available to buy online.
When to see a doctor
People should see their doctor if a pimple-like bump on the finger:
- causes significant pain
- oozes pus or fluid
- persists for a week or longer
Pimples are much less likely to affect the fingers than other areas of the body. When pimple-like bumps occur on the finger, they may result from eczema, an insect bite, or another condition.
Home remedies are sometimes useful, but persistent or painful lumps on the finger may require further investigation and medical treatment.
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