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 due to its suppression of the immune system, from headache pains to muscle aches. However, visual signs likebumps and splotches on the skin can be uncomfortable and optically unappealing.
One form of stress bumps, hives, are 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 that of the fingers and hands. Medically classified as urticaria, the skin lesions can manifest as round, red lesions, or according to WebMD, plaque-ish wheels that can appear for a variety of reasons, including stress, or even causes unknown. The lesions maybe inflamed and can be itchy and uncomfortable.
Why The Location?
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, the lesions can be triggered, according to Hives.org, by sunlight, fabric, temperature changes, and certain foods. With proper treatment, hives are curable 95 percent of the time.
Will They Go Away?
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 thing but definitely can be recurring if the continuous stimuli, such as stress and allergies, is not addressed and alleviated. On the fingers, the lesions can be particularly hard to treat because of the location, and the constant use and pressure points of the fingers. The Mayo Clinic reassures most physicians will recommend at home treatments, and professional medical treatment is only recommended in serious or rare instances.
The following treatment options are easy and can be used without the monitoring of a medical professional. However, as when starting any new treatment regimen, always check with your doctor before taking over-the-counter medications.
- Alleviate the stress - Get rid of the underlying factors that are contributing to the chaos in your life. Engage in relaxing activities, such as reading, massage, swimming, or whatever brings you back to your center of peace.
- Cold compresses - The cold temperature of compresses helps to soothe the irritation of inflammation from the stress bumps.
- Topicals - 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.
- Antihistamines - Since histamine is the chemical that triggers the stress bumps, over-the-counter antihistamines such as Zyrtec and Benadryl can help.
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 hands and the soles of the feet. After about three weeks, the blisters rupture and become painful cracks in the skin. Dyshidrotic eczema lasts 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.
Though there are many things that can cause urticaria or dyshidrotic eczema, stress bumps, particularly on the fingers, can be one of the most annoying and uncomfortable. Recognition of daily stressors, incorporating destressors, and using over-the-counter treatment when necessary will keep these lesions at bay.