You use your hands for almost everything you do, so you will definitely notice if you develop red bumps on your finger joints. Many conditions can cause bumps on your fingers; some are completely harmless, while others are serious and require medical care. If there's no obvious cause for the bumps, such as a bug bite or injury, or if the bumps don't go away, see your physician to find out what is causing them.
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Dermatomyositis is a muscle disease that causes chronic muscle inflammation and weakness. A skin rash is the signature sign of this disease; the rash usually appears before the muscle symptoms. The rash is purple or red and most often appears on your knuckles, eyelids, knees or toes, although it can appear on your back, face, neck, chest or upper shoulders. Light will often make your rash or muscle symptoms worse. There is no cure for dermatomyositis, but you have treatment options including corticosteroid drugs, heat therapy, physical therapy, assistive devices and rest -- the treatment your physician chooses for you depends on the type and severity of your symptoms.
Granuloma annulare is a disorder that causes bumps or ring-shaped lesions on your skin, especially your hands, feet, elbows or knees. The bumps are red, purple, skin-colored or pearly white, and they sometimes itch. Most granuloma annulare bumps disappear on their own after a few months. No one knows what causes granuloma annulare, and treatment isn't necessary unless you have a very severe case that causes cosmetic issues. If this is the case, your dermatologist will treat you with steroids or other medications or with ultraviolet light.
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune disorder that causes your body's immune system to attack the lining of your joints. RA is twice as common in women than in men, and usually strikes between the ages of 40 and 60, although it can occur at any age. Doctors don't know what causes the disease, but your genes may make you more susceptible to it. RA often causes whole-body symptoms like fever and fatigue, but most of the damage RA causes is in your joints, especially your hands and feet. RA destroys cartilage and bone in your joints and loosens the tendons that hold the bones together. If you have RA, there is about a 25 percent chance that you will develop rheumatoid nodules -- pink or reddish bumps on or next to your affected joints that are firm, moveable and not painful. Doctors don't know what causes these bumps, but they often indicate a more severe case of RA that requires more aggressive treatment.
Lichen planus is an inflammatory disease that causes a rash of purplish-red flat-topped bumps that are often very itchy. The rash appears on the skin, including the fingers, but especially the wrists and ankles. Most dermatologists consider lichen planus an autoimmune disease; it is not contagious. You can also get lichen planus in your mouth or develop ridges on your fingernails. Your dermatologist will tell you if you have lichen planus and prescribe a treatment such as topical corticosteroid cream, anti-inflammatory medication or ultraviolet light treatment, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by too much uric acid in your blood. You can have excess uric acid for years before you have any symptoms; eventually the uric acid forms crystals in your joints and causes an acute attack. Acute attacks of gout affect the joints of your big toe, hands, feet, knees, wrists or ankles. Attacks are extremely painful, and your affected joints swell and turn red. Tophi are nodular masses of monosodium urate crystals, caused by years of chronic gout. These bumps are most likely to appear on your finger joints, wrist, hand, elbow or Achilles tendon. Tophi cause complications such as pain, nerve compression such as carpal tunnel syndrome, deformity and damage to your soft tissue or joints. If you have tophi, your doctor will probably prescribe medicine to lower your uric acid level.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- College of Family Physicians of Canada: Pink Subcutaneous Nodules on Fingers
- MayoClinic.com: Rheumatoid Arthritis
- American Academy of Dermatology: Lichen Planus
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Diagnosis and Management of Gout
- MayoClinic.com: Gout -- Symptoms
- Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center: Gout -- Clinical Presentation and Diagnosis
- American Academy of Dermatology: Granuloma Annulare
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Dermatomyositis Information Page