Small 2-4mm lumps filled with clear liquid then gain small brown centre then skin around the lumps thickens before peeling away

I have had these lumps for years but over the last 6 months or so they are appearing with increasing frequency. They always used to appear on the same finger but now they are also appearing on other fingers and the palms of my hands and are also starting to appwar in bigger clusters aswell. I though for a long time it was herpetic whitlow because of the spreading but they never turn into sores and generally arent painful or uncomfortable at all until the skin thickens. When the skin comes away though the skin underneath is pink and sore. Ive asked in many places on the internet but never got any replies. I hope someone has any ideas. If its related I also have a bowel condition similar to ibs however ive been told its not ibs but ibd in my colon has been ruled out and a barium meal and xray showed no signs of ibd in my large intestine

23 Replies

  • Hello. I would suggest you ask your Doctor to refer you to a Dermatologist. Anything to do with skin can be complicated so Dermo. may be able to identify the condition and therefore treat accordingly. It sounds like some form of Psoriasis but in a very early state. I am not a Doctor but I do have Pustular Psoriasis and it presents in a similar way. Use E45 or some other skin emollient to soften the skin until you can see a professional. Please do not spend a fortune on oils and balms, see a Consultant. Hope it gets sorted out for you.


  • I originally thought it may be a form of psoriasis as that would match up with the bowel problems i've been having but after looking extensively it seems unlikely it's pustular psoriasis because it is either red/sore or dry/cracked or white lumps none of which is like mine. Mine the lump is clear (like the first picture I posted in reply to the person underneath, then it gains a brownish spot in the centre then gradually the lump and small patch of skin around it thickens which creates an uncomfortable sensation then the hard skin starts peeling away leaving pinkish skin behind like in the second picture below. Thank you for your reply though :)

  • You are right, very different to what I thought. It could be an allergic reaction, I'm sure you have already considered that, but have a think and see if there is a person or possibly an animal and even a surface that is new in your life that might explain it. I have seen something similar with micrapore sticking plaster but the dark spot in the middle is a mystery!


  • I know it sounds blunt but there is literally nothing new in my life. Because of my stomach condition I don't get out so any changes generally are quite noticeable in my life. Even our detergent s are the same but also this has been a recurring thing for years.. it used to be just a small cluster of 5 or so spots on one finger and its only recently started spreading and it also used to only occur every 5 months sometimes more and now its almost every other month. I have been quite stressed lately and my gastro has been monitoring my white cell count because its pretty high and has stayed pretty high for at least 6 months.

  • That sounds very much like pompholyx to me - It is a sort of seasonal eczema kind of thing. I have had it for a number of years, just tiny blisters like you mentioned, on the edges of a couple of fingers, but last year it really flared up during the summer, and also appeared on my feet; I ended up getting very sore, dry, cracked skin. My doctor prescribed a strong steroid cream for it, which seemed to help a little, but I do get worried about those creams, so maybe I didn't apply it as often as I should. Now that summer is here, the flare up is beginning again, but hopefully I can keep on top of it with the creams.

    I think your general doctor should be able to confirm what this is, but if they still don't have a clue, you should probably seek a dermatology referral. Good luck, I hope you find some relief from this awful condition.

    Btw, there are some threads regarding pompholyx elsewhere on these message boards, so it might be worth your while looking through them to see if it gives you any more clues as to whether it is what you have.

  • I looked up pompholyx and most of the images I've seen look nothing like what I have, although I did find a picture on google that is VERY similar to the early stages of my condition, have a look and let me know what you think:

    Also this is very similar to what it looks like when the thick skin starts coming away:

    I am not sure it is pompholyx though as I don't get any redness in or around the lumps nor any itchiness and they certainly never appear to be "sores"

  • Oh it looks sore! I have patches of pompholyx from time to time on fingers and soles of feet but the blisters are much smaller and packed together in 'clumps' and ferociously itchy some of the time. I would echo getting dermatologist referral and also getting an investigation into your stomach/bowel condition. Its not very helpful to be told what it isn't for you, is it. A naturopath I went to see at one stage explained to me that our skin is our sort of first and last defence system, so something appearing on the 'outside' is largely due to 'inside' system not coping somewhere, but this is not generally how dermatologists view our body! Good luck with getting a solution that works for you.

  • Thanks. I would try and get a referral to a dermatologist but at the minute I am seeing 2 gastroentorologists and 2 colorectal surgeons and soon to be seeing a urologist aswell... my life is pretty stressful without dermatologists thrown in aswell. I can live with it until my stomach issue is sorted or I have a colostomy to give me more freedom. I am just very curious about what it is and worried it will spread beyond my hands but I think pushing to get my stomach problem sorted is more important to me at the moment for physical and mental reasons. Thanks for the advice though! I will do it in the future :)

  • OMG you are so right, there should be a global HU community called 'revolving hospital door syndrome' and the logo could be a wee set of revolving doors!

  • I agree wholeheartedly. It seems that unless your condition is immediately life threatening then the NHS are happy to make you wait 3 months for 1 test then another 3 months to see the specialist who referred you for the test, just to send you for another test and have to wait another 6 months before you see them again! This has been happening to me for 3 years now. I saw 2 gastros in the beginning, one who said I could have a colostomy if nothing was found and sent me for a colonoscopy. The second I saw was her boss who I wrote a letter to give to her in my appointment explaining just how god-awful my life is because of this ibs/ibd like condition. She looked at the colonscopy biopsies which were normal, ran a stool test then told me "Your not having a colostomy, it WILL ruin your life, I should know Im a gastro I think its IBS so just get on with life" (I should include that in my letter I included the HUGE list of IBS treatments I have tried and she couldn't think of a SINGLE thing I hadn't already tried) so I complained and got sent to a third gastro who in the beginning was very optimistic about helping me then after 2 tests and 3 appointments began to realise he had no idea what is ruining my life, so he then referred me to ANOTHER gastro at the same hospital and a colorectal surgeon. The other gastro who i saw a few days ago referred me to a urologist and is running a ct scan also has said that if we can't figure this out, as long as I understand the risks he will put me forward for a colostomy if EVERY other avenue has failed (Means I probably have another 2-3 years of tests if they all take roughly the same amount of time) BUT to add cream on top, the referral to the colorectal surgeon cocked up because gastroentoroligists ARENT allowed to refer you to another hospital. Now the colorectal surgeon works in the same hospital as the gastros I am now seeing, however he also has a clinic he does once a week in a private hospital and for some reason my referral was sent to the private hospital which they refused so I have waited three months for an appointment which isn't coming, so I had to ask my GP to re-refer me to this specific surgeon however on the NHS choose and book system which handles all non-nhs hospital referals (NHS appointments at private hospitals) can't find this specific surgeon so my gp has had to do a broad referal (Meaning I will get an appointment with ANYONE in the colorectal team) and THEN I have to contact the hospital and re-arrange whatever appointment they send me to be specifically with this Dr Lindsay that my gastro WANTED me to see! and as if that isnt enough? The cherry on top anyone?! The gastro that I just saw (the fourth) told me to ask my GP to refer me to a urologist just to make sure that nothing in my reporductive/urinary system is causing havoc with my bowels, my GP told me today that they aren't allowed to do that and that the gastro MUST ask the GP him/herself otherwise the GP isn't allowed to make the referal because they don't know why you are even being sent there or what the gastro plans to achieve by sending you there!! Oh and one last thing, I have also been to a nhs appointments in a private hospital because all the diarrhea and constipation my condition gives me caused quite bad haemroids which he injected, they went away for a few weeks then came back as I started having bad attacks again so I am having to go back again for likely more injections and surgery if they keep failing (Luckily though I am blessed with the fact that at least THAT issue is being handled by a private hospital so when I called 2 days ago to say the haemroids are back so I thought I might aswell move my follow up appointment from end of august to sooner, they arranged for me to go in this coming monday (Thats only a 5 day wait! OMG if private hospitals are this fast its such a shame that they refuse to take me if i were to try and somehow pay because my bowel condition is so complicated!!), so that makes (so far) 4 Gastroentorolgists, A urologist, 2 Colorectal surgeons and ZERO luck! lmao and my health just keeps getting worse the longer I am stuck at home in agony.. I think this skin problem I am having is somewhat stress induced, as is my constant very high White Cell Count... If only they could just let me have that damn operation I wouldn't be costing the nhs SO MUCH damn money! To put it shortly, I cost the government in benefits roughly £14,000 a year. The TOTAL outlay to perform a colostomy and then care for the patient for 33 YEARS is roughly £28,000... Go figure Mr Government!!! I know operating unecessarily is a big worry of any self respecting surgeon but what a patient is in agony, unable to work, unable to even go to a party with his daughter and no tests can find any obvious cause... When is enough enough? --- Sorry you kind of instigated a bit of a rant, this WHOLE thing frustrates me so much yet no matter what I say to the gastro's they are unwilling to try and make things move a little faster. Like this "new" gastro I saw the other day. My "Main" gastro told me I would likely only wait about 6 weeks to see the new gastro AND Dr Lindsay. Turns out I had to wait THREE MONTHS to see the new gastro and i havent even got an appointment for Dr Lindsay three months later!!! >.< Anyway I can guarantee EVERYONE will have their complaints about the NHS or its "system" but I do still believe I am lucky for even having free healthcare in the first place!! However just because it's free does not mean we should have sub-standard care compared to paying patients

  • What I love about this site is that you can rant to your heart's content crimsonknight3 and we are all right with you!

  • I guess so :) I am not usually the kind of person to rant >.< I just try and keep my head above water and my emotional state on an even keel. Everything else is just an accident! lol

  • Those pictures are both very similar to the stages of my condition, and I never experience any itchiness or soreness from the little blisters on my hands, it's only when my hands get irritated during the flaky phase that it is ever sore. The flare ups on my feet, however, have been quite painful.

    As was said in another reply, a dermatology referral is probably a good idea, if your GP is unable to determine exactly what it is; I hope you find out soon.

  • I forgot to say- my blisters frequently develop that little brown spot in the middle that you have mentioned. Hope some of this is helpful to you!

  • So has it just progressively spread in your case? How to you treat it? Just moisturising and occasionaly steroid cream?

  • Hi crimsonknight3,

    As already mentioned, you need to see a dermatologist. Different skin conditions can look alike, and a skin biopsy is often needed. Your condition does look a bit like pompholyx or mild pustular psoriasis, but it could be something else.

    Also, it's not unusual for people to develop skin conditions secondary to bowel disorders. When this happens, the skin condition generally flares up when the bowel condition is active.

    Hope you get some answers,


    Blistering Diseases: DermNet NZ

    Palmoplantar pustulosis: DermNet NZ

    Pompholyx: DermNet NZ

  • I signed up just to say I get this exact issue, seems to only happen once or twice a year during spring/summer. The bumps come up in clusters at various points on my hands, I can either pop them which releases a fatty clear liquid or leave them at which point they will turn into those dark spots you speak of, then the skin dries and peels off.

    I did book an appointment with a doctor once but because its nearly impossible to get an appointment quickly the issue had all but gone by the time I got there. I expect in my case its something to do with pollen and some kind of plant, its the exact same time each year and ha happened for the last few years now

  • It sounds like we have the EXACT same thing as me but in my case mine happens year round and lately its appearing more often/taking longer to go away. When it was only once or twice a year it was on just one finger but now its frequency/length has picked up its spread and its now on every finger and both palms and its also only just starting to appear on the backs of my fingers, usually it seems to stick to the sides of my fingers. I also noted that when it appears in creases/on my palms it does seem to dry out the skin like eczema rather than thicken it like psoriasis and theres a new sort of burny sensation. Also if I pop them I get the same clear gooey liquid but ive noticed if I pop them prematurely the spot gets bery sore for a few days... im still really worried its contagious so I try not to pop them lol

  • Yea when I pop them by scratching like mad over the cluster(lol) it makes the whole area feel like ive been rubbing stinging nettles there and lasts ages so I don't do that anymore.....

    I find argan oil with vitamin E works quite well, I use a cream which has both in it and if I scratch it off during my sleep or whatever I use pure organic aloe vera gel to sooth it. You saying it has got worse with time though makes me think I should probably take photos of it next time it flares up(just finished and settled down) and take them to my doctor

    its always the sides of my thumb and forefinger which are worst affected with usually a little bit on my middle finger facing my fore finger. I do have mild Keratosis pilaris on my arms and legs and have IBS, but this other issue has only been the last few years where as those have been with me since puberty.

    Good luck ;-)

  • It's not just me!!!! I get exactly the same thing!! Seems to get worse with stress. They are all over my palms and in between my fingers. Get some clhsters if them then when they harden and the skin peels away it dtibgs so bad like an open cut! It comes and goes every other week.

  • Could this be Dyshydrosis eczema? It started years ago with me when I first noticed the little bumps on my left pinky toe. Now I have them on the sides of my palms and fingers. I still have them occasionally on my left pinky toe but the ones on my hands just appeared in the course of a couple days. I should add that the weather did get pretty hot and my new work environment involves a good amount of sweating.

    I'm pretty sure it isn't fungus because no one else I've had contact with has had anything appear on them. They don't itch or irritate, but so far only the pinky toe blisters have clustered and popped on its own. Then it dries up and flakes off.

  • I don't know if you have gotten any answers regarding your blisters but I have EXACTLY what you describe. I have been to the dermatologist with 3 different biopsies of blisters with no answers. My case was discussed at a dermatology conference and they came back with a diagnosis of Photodermatitis. I'm not sold on this. Would love some answers also!

  • Hi there. I know this is quite old but several people have said they have to same issue. I do as well. I have for about 20 years. I also have a host of autoimmune diseases and they are still investigating. I was told it was an allergy, shingles, herpetic, another virus, bacterial, and eczema. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, Ulcerative Colitis, etc. I started charting all of the symptoms and the process this happens in. Early it was just fatigue and general ill feeling. Low grade fever etc. Now I have a list of tons of things that happen just before and during and after. I also have joint inflammation and deviation around where I get these blisters. It start with "cold" like symptoms. I get a mild cough, some sinus congestion, and fatigue. Then I get an uptick in pain in my hands, hips, knees. Next I get the burning/pins and needles with some off and on numbness in the effected hand then within a day or so I start to see dark dots deep deep under the skin and the area gets very angry looking. I then get a crazy amount of neck and skull pain but I have inflammatory arthritis in my whole spine an most of my joints so this might not be universal like many other of these events, and I start getting migraines. I get blinding headaches usually a week or so before clear fluid filled blisters come up and start to itch. The more itch the more blisters come up. I have UC stomach issues in there, neurological symptoms ie: depression, irritability, mood swings, fine motor skill blips, and shooting pains in my right temple with blurred vision in that eye. The blisters can all merge if they come up in an area of movement or stay separate. The angry redness gets less and they start to change. The brown spots show once they start to dry and create a hard bit. They then peel and the skin under them remains tender and very sensitive for some time like it's entirely new skin.

    After years and tests and tracking symptoms we are finally getting close to an answer. I am going up next week to a Rheumatology group at MacMaster Uni to see a dermatologist that specializes in rheumatic connections. The guesses thus far are a systemic vasculitis and/or SLE related issue. Mine is absolutely an auto immune inflammatory response as it comes with joint inflammation and I have been tested for allergies, blisters have been tested for viruses, bacteria, etc.

    Here is a link to pics of the last flare that I've had. This one is just healing now. If anyone would like an update on what my rheumy team says feel free to email me. If you are having trouble getting a Dx I really suggest taking pics daily and bring them to every doc you see. That is how I got them to listen and get what I was saying. Good luck folks

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