Pimples on Fingers – Causes, Diseases, Pictures, Treatment

As with any part of the body, a number of different lesions can arise on the skin of the fingers. From dry peeling skin to red raised rashes an a host of other types of skin problems, sometimes pimples may appear on the fingers. It is important to understand what these lesions are, what disease it may indicate as well as the possible causes and treatments.

What are finger pimples?

The term finger pimples can be used to describe a number of different raised lesions on the fingers. However, this term can be misleading. Although the term pimples is widely used, it is mainly a skin lesion that occurs in acne vulagaris. Pimples are a common term that refer to papules, the red raised swelling of the skin which is characteristic of acne vulgaris.

A change in hormone levels leading to increased oil (sebum) production and infection by surface bacteria is what causes pimples in acne vulgaris. It is more common among teens and tends to affect the face, chest and back. However, acne vulgaris can also affect adults and may sometimes extend beyond these typical regions. Finger pimples are usually not related to acne vulgaris.

Causes and Diseases

There are a number of reasons why pimple-like lesions may appear on the skin surface. Sometimes it is a swelling related to an injury or allergy, an insect bite, pus-filled cysts from infections or fluid-filled blisters caused by burns.  Some of these lesions may be itchy or even painful, while others may not. It is therefore important that these finger pimples are examined and assessed by a medical professional for an acurate diagnosis.


Blisters are fluid-filled lesions that arise in the outermost layers of the skin. It is a result of injury or friction. The blister is due to inflammation and forms as a means to protect the more delicate underlying areas of the skin. However, blisters may also occur with various skin diseases even without irritation or injury of the skin.

Picture of blister

Blisters commonly arise with repeated friction on the fingers, exposure to certain harsh chemicals, burns, frostbite and even with crushing or pinching injuries. Most of the time the fluid within it is a clear tissue fluid but sometimes blood-filled blisters can occur if the injury results in breaks of tiny blood vessels in the area.


An abscess is a pus filled lesion. It is usually seen in infections and can be due to bacteria, viruses or parasites which gain entry into the the skin. It may be limited to the superficial layers of the skin (impetigo) or extend into deeper tissue (cellulitis).  This accumulation of pus is the body’s way of walling of the infection.

Picture of abscess

However, it can also occur around objects which may penetrate the skin and which the immune system is able to identify as a potential threat. The pus contains tissue fluid, cellular debris, immune cells, the causative pathogen (usually bacteria) and some blood.


Pompholyx is a condition where there tiny fluid-filled blisters arise on the hands and feet. This condition is also known as dyshidrotic dermatitis or veicular hand eczema. The blisters are known as vesicles or bullae and while it tends to occur on the palms and soles, it can also extend to the fingers and toes.

Picture of pompholyx

The exact cause of pompholyx is unknown. It tends to arise with pre-existing skin diseases, such as fungal skin infections and allergic skin diseases.  It may also be associated with HIV infection and tend arise with psychological stress in people who are prone.

Read more on dyshidrotic eczema.

Tinea Manuum

Tinea manuum is the medical term for a fungal infection of the skin on the hands and fingers. It is a common skin infection and may be associated with similar infections elsewhere on the body like on the feet (tinea pedis / athlete’s foot) and groin (tinea cruris / jock itch).

Picture of tinea manuum

Tiny fluid-filled blisters may arise occasionally although the typical lesion is an area of dry, peeling skin with a red raised border. This rash is usually round and this is one of the reasons why it is incorrectly referred to as a ringworm at times. The blisters tend to occur on the border of the rash.

Read more on hand fungus.

Exfoliative Keratolysis

Exfoliative keratolysis is a skin condition where there is peeling of the skin, especially on the palms and soles. The palms tend to be more commonly affected. This condition may first present with air-filled blisters. Eventually the blisters burst and the skin starts to peel.

Most of the time exfoliative keratolysis occurs in people with sweaty palms and feet. This excessive sweating is limited to one part of the body (localized hyperhidrosis). However, the exact cause of exfoliative keratolysis is unknown. It is believed that the excessive moisture may be the cause of the peeling.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a common skin condition that arises when the skin comes in contact with substances that irritate it or trigger an allergic reaction. The hands are a commonly affected part of the body as it makes contact with the environment on a constant basis.

Picture of contact dermatitis

Typically the rash is red, swollen and itchy. Eventually there may be drying and peeling of the skin. Blisters may also arise depending on the irritant or allergen. There is also a risk of a secondary bacterial infection in severe untreated cases. Hand contact dermatitis is commonly seen among dishwashers due to regular contact with water and detergents.

Other Causes

A host of other skin conditions may also present with blisters although the blisters do not always typically occur on the fingers. Some of these other skin conditions that may cause finger pimples (blisters) includes:

  • Bullous pemphigoid
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Drug hypersensitivity rash
  • Pemphigus vulgaris
  • Psoriasis
  • Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome
  • Sunburn

Treatment of Finger Pimples

The treatment of finger pimples depends on the underlying cause. Therefore treatment options can vary significantly. It is imperative that the underlying skin condition is correctly diagnosed before treatment is commenced. Some of the treatment options may include:

  • Antibiotics and antimicrobial ointment for bacterial infections.
  • Antifungal agents for fungal infections of the skin.
  • Antihistamines for allergic skin conditions.
  • Corticosteroids are used to suppress immune activity and reduce inflammation.
  • Emollients to help moisturize the skin and reduce drying of the skin.
  • Immune-modulating agents for autoimmune skin diseases.
  • Phototherapy (light therapy) and photochemotherapy (PUVA) for certain conditions like psoriasis.

Images sourced from atlasdermatologico.com.br

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