Damn tiny itchy blisters... WTF causes them?

So last night, my sleep was hampered by something that comes up every so often: these tiny, clear, VERY itchy blisters that cluster no more than five at a time (sometimes even just a single one) in odd areas: usually just on the border between the top of my hand and my palm, or just on the border of my soles (although last night, it was right in the middle of the sole!). They tend to start itching very suddenly, and tend to stop just as quickly. They seem to pop up in completely different places about once to thrice a year, and the surrounding skin looks completely normal except for the tiny blisters. They don’t hurt or anything, they’re just REALLY ITCHY.

I’ve tried to look this up on Google, but the only real reference I can find is to syphilis. However, I tested negative for it last year, and this has been popping up much longer than that, AFAIK. So, any ideas?

I know exactly what you’re talking about, but I don’t know what they are either. I get them in the same places you do (edges of feet and hands. And come to think of it, always on my right hand or foot, never on the left.), but only get one or two at a time. Weird. I never thought of them as blisters, though. Just itchy mystery bumps.

i have contact derm. that starts out that way. it is just on my left hand. the derm.s and allergist said it is an allergy. just can’t narrow down what exactly because it only is on one finger.

i could scratch at it for hours. the doc.s have given me hydrocort. creams to help stop the itch and clear it up.

they could just be some sort of allergic reaction or heat rash or something, however, if you’re experiencing them consistently following mild cold/flu-like symptoms and/or joint soreness (particularly of the neck), then it’s might possibly be a very minor case of shingles.

My armchair diagnosis (IANAD) is also contact dermatitis/eczema. I get it on my hands, and occasionally on my feet, and it appears exactly as you describe. In my experience, the best remedies are adequate moisturizing to prevent them (if I’m not diligent–esp. if I’m washing my hands a lot, say, while cleaning or cooking–my hands dry out fast and lead to those annoying blisters) and OTC hydrocortisone cream to quiet them.

Yup, sounds like eczema to me – I get it between my fingers, and sometimes in the crook of my elbows or the backs of my knees. Yup, keep the skin clean and moisturized – and when it pops up anyway (it’s definitely stress-related for me), use OTC 1% cortisone cream.

Of course I am not a doctor. I’m barely employed, so take this with a grain of salt.

I get the same (if not the same then very similar) outbreaks every now and then.
Same areas, same symptoms.
I have been to a dermatologist and he identified that mine were due to exposure to “sodium laureth sulphate”. The stuff that is used in detergents to break the water tension. Found in great abundance in hair shampoos.

He explained that it appears on the hands and feet due to using your hands to wash your hair and the feet due to the SLS remaining in the water at the bottom of the shower.

He recommended using an anti-dandruff shampoo that has no SLS listed in the ingredients. It may still be there but not as common as normal shampoos.

I now use a peppermint oil based hand lotion on hands and feet and the problem is under control. Every now and then it returns so I use the lotion for a week or so and away it goes.

Try avoiding sodium laureth sulphate and see if that improves the situation. It may take a couple of weeks to notice a difference.

I have this problem, too, and it is ALWAYS triggered by stress for me. When I first moved out on my own, I got them so bad that my hands swelled up, I couldn’t bend my fingers, they were weeping all the time (and so was I, actually), and I couldn’t sleep for more than about an hour at a time. This went on for about 2 weeks. Horrible.

Doctors were no help. The only thing they could come up with was “contact dermatitis” which seems like what all of you are getting diagnosed with as well.

After doing quite a bit of research on my own, I found out that this is called dyshidrotic eczema. The link is intended for dermatologists to read, I think, but contains some very interesting information. If it’s too much, you can google for dyshidrotic eczema or dermatitis, and the term pompholyx, which, according to the link is “[F]rom cheiropompholyx, which means “hand and bubble” in Greek.” Ew.

Anyway, I didn’t find that moisturizing helped. Neither did any anti-itch crap. Nothing that any doctor recommended to me helped. The only thing that did help, was ICE. Lots and lots of ice. Or anything very cold. Cold packs, whatever you got. It was the only way I finally started sleeping through the night during that bad outbreak. It stopped me from itching, so I wouldn’t aggravate it and pop the bubbles (again, ew). That’s how it spreads, I found. When the bubbles break and get the stuff in them elsewhere it really seems to spread.

I still get it sometimes, when I’m stressed or during the change of the seasons, but never that bad again. When my hands start feeling bumpy, I go for the ice and keep myself from scratching as much as possible, and it goes away. The hardest part is to not itch. God, that itching is intense, though. And it feels way too good when you do. Damn evil skin conditions.

Well, this was a long post. I hope this helps someone. I wish I had someone to tell me this stuff when I was first going through it.

I’ll chime in w/ the others who said contact dermititus. I get exactly your described symtoms whenever I handle used motor oil.

Between the fingers, tiny blisters, grrr, It usually drives me so batty, I scrape them off with my knife. Unfortunatly, this ALWAYS makes it worse. But damn it, that sissy assed cream the doc gave me just doesn’t cut it.

I’d be happy if just once, I went into the docs office and after the examination he said, “Hmm Mr. EG what you have there is a severe case of ichicosis.” " I am going to prescribe this device called an angle grinder." “Apply the sissy assed cream to the wire brush and run it liberally over the affected area.”

rocking chair

Sorry I missed your post first time.

My sister is highly alergic to nickle (of all things) she can’t wear any gold less than 24 carat. (Imagine her young and still dating).

Even coins make her break out if she holds them too long and gets sweaty palms.

Do you have a ring yo wear occasionally?

Nickel sensitivity (I don’t think it’s an allergy) is actually extremely common; a lot of people notice it particularly in piercings, and have to wear very high-quality metals to avoid it. Sounds like she has a particularly severe case of it.

Here is a page which links nickel allergies to allergic contact dermatitis. Can’t a person also have a very serious, potentially fatal reaction to nickel? I seem to recall reading about an instance where a person was hospitalized because of the button on their jeans IIRC, which they were allergic to. I would say such an event with nickel would be quite rare, since I can’t find mention of severe allergic reactions on the net, though I’d sure be careful if I had such an allergy. Here is a page with some information from the Mayo clinic. Here is another page about nickel allergy. Good luck getting this problem sorted out.

nickel doesn’t seem to bother me. i don’t have a problem with earrings. when the first break out occured my allergist and i went batty trying to figure it out. esp. when it was just one finger tip. i never thought i’d have a finger print again.

stress does make it worse. once it happens ANYTHING can make it worse.

cold is the only thing that really helps with the itch, as dangerous nan mcgrew stated. heat makes the itch much, much, worse.

i go with cream, bandage, and ice packs.

It could also be Herpes. Or, a fungus.

What it really is- is something you should go see a real MD about. Seriously.

Well, perhaps the OP should. Yet I, too, have experienced similar blisters (always on my fingers) intermittently for years. They come, they last a few days, they itch like hell, they dry out and the skin flakes away…until the next time.

I have no idea what they are, but I honestly don’t see what a doctor could or would prescribe beyond a steroid cream for ‘intermittent itchy bumps’.

Well, yes- that depends heavily upon what causes them. But if it is Herpes, you should know. If it is a Fungus, it likely can be cured. Some other more likely things already mentioned can only be treated not cured, but there are many things which could be causing our OP’s affliction. Once he knows what it is, then he may find out it is something minor he just has to live with.

I get something similar on my arms that I just connected last year to the weather changing from cold to warm. I have no idea what causes them, but sure enough, first warm week we got I broke out. Mine clear up in a week or so, without any special treatment, but I do a lot of scratching in the meantime.

Mangetout: I’m doubting it’s Shingles… I had shingles April 2004. The blisters associated with Shingles are bigger than this person described (the smallest I had was the size of an average pimple), and they aren’t clear…they’re a whiteish yellowish crusty sore. And they don’t itch, they hurt.

Honestly, what I would say it could be, is eczema, maybe an allergic reaction to laundry detergents (or bathsoap), or possibly little bug bites, especially if they occur at bedtime, because sometimes little mites can live in your bedsheets.

Well, as I hinted at in my OP, I had a STD test about a year ago, with all things tested for as negative, and I’m pretty sure I’ve had these itchy bumps longer than that. (Although I know as far as herpes goes, it’s not exclusively transmitted by sex, so I could’ve gotten it by now regardless.)

But I’ll see if I can’t look into it next checkup anyway…