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Blisters on Fingertips
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Blisters on Fingertips
I have already stumped a dermatologist with 30+ years of experience and a
pediatrician with just a few years less, so before we see any more doctors....
My 8.5 year old son gets these outbreaks on the Distal Phalanges ( finger
tips). The tips get red and swollen, and on index, ring and pinkies he gets
blisters. Sometimes they look like whiteheads and sometimes they look like
the kind of blisters you get from hiking boots - big and looking to be filled
with clear fluid.
The outbreaks happen every 4-6 months. They do not hurt unless they are
We have already tracked and are currently tracking food, chemicals,
medicines, etc., but this does not seem to correlate with the outbreaks.
Does anyone have any idea what this might be, and what kind of a doctor we
would see for further direction?
I thank you in advance
Could your son have dishydrotic ezcema? a relatively rare
form of dermatitis
Look at google images
Hi, when my husband developed an unusual medical problem, we quickly
learned that the best place to have it properly identified and taken care of in the
most up-to-date way is a research/teaching hospital, such as UCSF. As a couple
of doctors told us, they see more ''zebras'' or unusual issues that a regular doc
never does. You can search the USCF Medical Center website for pediatric
dermatologists--I did a quick search and came up with one,
Mary Williams: http://www.ucsfhealth.org/adult/cgi-bin/prd.cgi?action=DISPLAYDOCTOR&doctorid=1355 . If it were my kid, I'd just call over
there for an appt.
FYI, I am not at all in the medical field. However, my
husband has pretty bad eczema and that sounds a lot like one
of his symptoms. Unfortunately, while my husband's eczema
seems to be stress related, I don't think there is a reliable
cure for eczema yet.
Poor little guy! Does he or anyone in the family get cold
sores? Cold sores can also be spread to the fingers. This
condition is referred to as 'herpes whitlow'. Herpes
whitlow commonly occurred in dental personnel before the era
of mandatory glove use. The virus is spread from the
location of an outbreak by touching the sore(s). The
fingers, eyes, and other body areas can accidentally become
infected in this way. If you suspect this is the case, you
could try cold sore medicine like Abreva and see if it helps.
I found this on a website... have no idea if it is correct
but something to ask your child's dermatologist & pediatrician.
Blistering distal dactylitis (BDD) is a distinct clinical
entity that is infrequently reported in the literature.
Characteristically, blistering distal dactylitis is
described as a localized infection involving the volar fat
pad of the distal phalanx of the digits, and it usually
presents as a fluid-filled blister. The usual causative
organism is group A β-hemolytic Streptococcus, but less
commonly, Staphyloccous aureus and Staphyloccoccus epidermis
are present. The normal age range is reported to be 2 to 16
years old, but there are case reports of this infection in
adults. Only one case has been reported in the literature in
a child younger than 24 months of age. In this report we
describe three cases in children younger than 9 months old.
These three cases indicate that BDD can and does occur in
children younger than 2 years of age.
Hi my daughter is 10 now but when she was 2 years old she
developed blisters that sound alot like your son's and they
had little whiteheads too. We lived in Redwood city at the
time and the Dr's said it was called Hand, Foot, and Mouth
disease. They gave her antibiotics and it went away after a
few days please ask if that may be what it is. Hope this
I did a quick google search on ''blisters on fingertips'' and
came up with a number of hits, including the one that seems
most likely: herpetic whitlow, a variation of the herpes
simplex virus. It's probably not as common as the cold
sores that appear around the mouth, but it seems that your
dermatologist should have been able to ''finger'' this one,
with 30+ years experience... odd. The wiki description
says that children can transmit it to their fingers from
the mouth by sucking on their fingers. If this is the
diagnosis, topical acyclovir can help.
hope this helps
Sounds like it could be the cold sore virus (HSV I) taken up residence in the
fingertips. It's called ''whitlow''. Kids get it by touching their mouths or sucking
their fingers when they have an active cold sore, especially on the first outbreak.
If your kid, or anyone in your household has cold sores I would strongly
consider this possibility. You can have the liquid from a blister cultured for a
positive ID, though false negatives are not uncommon.
It's contagious when active, but luckily your kid is old enough to follow hygiene
rules-- don't touch eyes, don't touch others, wash hands often. Oral acyclovir is
often effective as a prophylactic.
Been There, Done That
You could consider an infectious disease specialist. There
is probably someone affiliated with Children's hospital.
Off the top of my head - sometimes herpes viruses can
present in an atypical manner, especially if the person is
immunosuppressed in some way. Have they popped a blister
and sent a viral culture?
I am on the side of the MD that suggested dishidrotic(also
sometimes called pompholyx) eczema. I have it. Have had it
for my whole life. It pretty much stays on the bottom of
feet, between toes, inside of hand, fingers and between
fingers.... It comes and goes and spreads when the blisters
open and ooze the clear fluid. I had it often as a kid and
then it disappeared for 20 yrs, had a few flares ups, then
disppeared for another 10 or so yrs. It seems to be stress
related, mostly, but I also sometimes wonder if dairy makes
it worse. It seems to flare out of control if I drink
certain brands of milk, surprisingly. However, I also can be
dairy free and still have issues, albeit far more under
control. See if you can try diet changes, like dairy and/or
wheat removal. Do add some EFA's to the child's diet. And
try rubbing oil on your child's body, such as almond or
avocado (I buy the cooking avocado oil and use it!).
As you will see in your research, it is the hardest form of
eczema to cure. I find that the only thing that works
(unfortunately) when it gets out of control, is cortizone
ointment. I use it a few times for a couple of days and then
back off again. It seems to help. Good luck.
They tried treatments for dyshidrotic eczema?
knows a little derm
I just wanted to second the advice to see someone at UCSF
dermatology. My son was finally diagnosed with Cutaneous
Lupus, a condition that it is aggravated by exposure to the
sun, after many years of being told it's just eczema or
psoriasis. It was an intense experience at UCSF because it
is a learning hospital and a lot of students wanted to see
him, take pictures, etc., but it was worth it to finally get
a diagnosis. Please email me if you would like to discuss it
this page was last updated: Feb 28, 2010
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