Stress is life. Home, work, family, friends….any aspect of day-to-day routines can go wrong, and unfortunately, stress can ensue.
Stress has a host of physical manifestations. Stress suppresses the immune system and can cause problems ranging from headache pains to muscle aches. However, visual signs, like stress bumps on fingers, hands, and other areas can be uncomfortable and unappealing.
Different Types of Stress Bumps on Hands
You might notice different types of bumps on fingertips, rashes on your palms, or redness on other areas of your hands. There may be different diagnoses, treatments, and causes for the condition.
One form of stress bumps, called hives, is very common with emotions like stress, or anything that can potentially suppress the immune system. Stress induces hormonal changes in the body, causing the skin to be more sensitive and reactive, including the skin on the fingers and hands.
Medically classified as urticaria, the skin lesions can manifest as round, red lesions. They may also look like plaque-ish wheels that can appear for a variety of reasons, including stress. The lesions maybe inflamed and can be itchy and uncomfortable. Studies suggest that the lesion may resolve within just 2-3 hours.
When the immune system is not in homeostasis, or "in balance," it sends the chemical histamine to fight off whatever may be causing illness, in this case, stress. Histamine is the chemical triggered by the body to get rid of offenders causing an allergic reaction.
However, histamine is unable to get rid of stress, so as result, hives and eczema form on different areas of the body, including the palms and fingers. In addition to stress, medical experts suggest that the lesions can be triggered by sunlight, fabric, temperature changes, and certain foods.
With proper treatment, hives are curable 95% of the time. Acute hives can appear and disappear from the fingers in a matter of minutes to hours. Chronic hives can last up to six weeks, or possibly longer. They can be a one-time occurrence but can also be recurring if the continuous stimuli, such as stress and allergies, is not addressed and alleviated.
When hives present as stress bumps on fingers, the lesions can be particularly hard to treat because of the location. Fingers are subjected to constant use and pressure points. The Mayo Clinic suggests that at-home treatments often resolve the bumps on your fingertips or hands. These treatments may include:
- Antihistamines such as Zyrtec or Benadryl can help since histamine is the chemical that triggers the stress bumps,
- Cold compresses help to soothe the irritation of inflammation from the stress bumps.
- Getting rid of the underlying factors that are contributing to the stress may relieve the bumps. Engage in relaxing activities, such as reading, massage, swimming, or whatever brings you back to your center of peace.
- Topicals such as hydrocortisone creams help to alleviate the itching and soreness of stress bumps. Though messy and difficult on fingertips, adjustments such as wearing non porous gloves can help to keep the cream in place. Natural topicals, such as aloe vera, have similar soothing effects.
These options are easy and can be used without the monitoring of a medical professional. However, when starting any new treatment regimen, always check with your doctor before taking over-the-counter medications.
Though hives are the most recognizable and common form of stress bumps on the fingers, other lesions include vesicles and small, tapioca grain-like clear fluid-filled bumps called dyshidrotic eczema. These commonly appear on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. After about three weeks, the blisters rupture and become painful cracks in the skin. Dyshidrotic eczema can last for two to four weeks.
While stress appears to trigger dyshidrotic eczema, experts are still unsure about causes of the condition, but they theorize certain conditions may predispose you to it, such as allergies, working with your hands in wet environments, or with exposure to metal salts.
It's important to talk to your doctor if you have this condition. He or she can prescribe appropriate treatments, such as medication and topical creams. Your doctor may also recommend ultraviolet light treatments and over-the-counter or home treatments such as antihistamines, dietary changes, and application of lotions or petroleum jelly.
Shingles (also known as herpes zoster) is a painful skin rash that typically appears on the chest and back, but can also spread to the fingers and hands, according to the National Library of Medicine.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, called varicella-zoster. If you've had chickenpox, the virus stays in your system and can be inflamed later in life. The National Institute of Aging reports that this can occur when the immune system is compromised or during periods of stress.
According to medical experts at Mount Sinai, you are at higher risk for a shingles outbreak if you are over the age of 60, if you had chickenpox before the age of 1, or if our immune system is weakened by medicines or disease.
The American Academy of Dermatology explains that the condition will clear up on its own, but they recommend medical treatment within three days for shingles. Your healthcare provider can prescribe medications that can reduce pain and decrease the chances that shingles will lead to other problems.
How to Manage Stress Bumps on Fingers and Hands
Stress bumps on your fingers and hands can be annoying and uncomfortable because this is an area of your body that is in constant use. There are many things that can cause the bumps to occur so identifying the root of the problem is your first step to treatment. If you have ruled out allergies and other issues (such as damage to the skin from exposure to toxins or rashes from rubbing) managing your stress levels may be the best next best step. Recognition of daily stressors, incorporating de-stressors, and using over-the-counter treatment when necessary will keep these lesions at bay.