Last reviewed by Editorial Team on August 13th, 2018.
Bumps on elbows can be from a variety of causes that can range from a skin rash to abscesses. Each cause has their own group of symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. They can range in size from very tiny to very large. Some may be so tiny that you mistake them for a skin rash but when looking at them closely you can see that the rash is made of tiny bumps clumped together. Some can be treated with home remedies while others may require a visit to your dermatologist or physician for treatment. If the bumps on elbows do not respond to home treatment, or appear to become worse you should also seek treatment. Having bumps on elbows is not very common but it does happen regardless of age, gender, or race.
Causes of Bumps on Elbows
Your elbows, like other parts of your skin, are particularly subjected to scaling and dryness. When wearing a sleeveless, or short sleeve shirt your elbow comes into contact with many different materials during the course of a day. This makes them susceptible to contact dermatitis, which is brought on by an allergic reaction to something that your elbow has made contact with during the day.
- Viral infections – they can strike a local area of your body and cause a rash, blisters, inflammation, and bumps. If this is the cause it can last for several days and then go away on its own.
- Rash – a rash has resultant bumps that can be caused by many things such as a bacterial or fungal infection or no infection at all but other things.
- Atopic dermatitis – this is a form of eczema and is a hereditary skin condition. It is a type of rash that often affects children. This type of dermatitis is often associated with some type of allergy such as to cosmetics, detergents, or foods.
- Psoriasis – this is a skin disorder that will often affect parts of your body where there is an accumulation of dry skin, such as your elbows. Oily skin can also be affected but dry skin is more susceptible. Two of the symptoms are red scaly patches or bumps and tends to be a chronic condition that comes and goes. To help treat the areas of your skin that has psoriasis you should apply moisturizer several times a day. Many times an outbreak can be aggravated by smoking, alcohol consumption, and stress. Treatment is a long-term situation. It can also be caused when your immune system is compromised or weakened, not allowing your skin cells to slough off as they should.
Non-itchy Bumps on Elbows
These are sac-like growths that can contain semi-solid, liquid, or gaseous substances. Cysts can range from so tiny that you can only see them through a microscope or they can be quite large. Cysts can be caused by many different things such as obstruction in your blood flow, tumors, chronic inflammatory conditions, or infections. Usually they are not harmful and will many times go away on their own. If they are very large they could interfere with your life and may have to be medically drained or surgically excised.
This is a medical condition that is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is cause by a tick bite. At the site of the tick bite you may notice a small red bump and after a few days you will notice the redness increasing and start to form a bull’s eye pattern. The best form of treatment is to take appropriate antibiotics, especially in the early stages so the infection does not spread.
This is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, which is the varicella-zoster virus. Even after you get over the chickenpox some of the strains of the virus remains in your body and when it flares up it can cause a burning rash that is made of many small red bumps.
This is also known as necrotic papulosis. It manifests itself in red bumps on elbows that are not itchy and occur in circular shaped rings. It mainly affects young adults and children with girls being more affected than boys are. What causes this medical condition is not known. It will usually go away on its own in a few weeks, to several months but it can recur. Although treatment is usually not needed you can treat it with topical steroid ointments and creams to help clear up the bumps on elbows. Some physicians or dermatologists may use steroid injections along with oral medications.
Itchy Bumps on Elbows
This is a very common cause of bumps on elbows and is also a chronic skin condition. It is easier to treat this skin condition than psoriasis or eczema. The main symptoms are blisters or bumps that are filled with a watery fluid. It is more common in women and men in their mid-teens to middle age. These bumps on elbows can be as large as a half inch across. The itching with this skin condition can be quite severe at times. The treatment is usually done with the medication Dapsone, which is usually very effective. You can also use over-the-counter anti-itching medication but you need to be careful scratching the area because it can lead to a secondary skin infection.
This medical condition is caused by tiny mites that have burrowed under your skin where the skin folds or where you wear tight clothing. Forming bumps on elbows is a common occurrence for mites. These types of red bumps can become very itchy. It is a contagious medical condition and is spread through human contact. Worldwide every year it affects almost three hundred million people. It is treated with prescription medications.
This is a reaction to the oily allergen that is present in the stems, roots, and leaves of these plants. Where you have a reaction you will notice red skin blisters accompanied by intense itching. To help with the itching you can use an over-the-counter anti-itch medication. If it is a severe case your dermatologist or physician may give you a prescription for a stronger anti-itch medication.
If you have itchy red bumps on elbows a general home remedy that you can use is to make a paste of water and baking soda and apply it to the affected area. You can also rub ice cubes over the itchy area.
When a person has bursitis it is an inflammation of small sacs of fluids that help your joints move smoothly. With this medical condition it affects your olecranon bursa, which is located at the back of your elbow. It is sometimes called Popeye elbow because the bumps on elbows that develop looks like the cartoon characters Popeye elbow. It can be caused by a sudden injury like a blow to your elbow that can cause fluid build-up or bleeding, infection, or inflammation from an inflammatory condition.
The symptoms of this medical condition is pain when there is pressure on your elbow of moving the elbow, swelling, redness, fever, and warmth. If it is caused by an infection you may also have swollen lymph nodes in your armpit. To treat olecranon bursitis your physician may have to drain the excess fluid from the sac with a needle. This will be followed up by injections of medications to help decrease inflammation so it can heal. You can also apply ice packs, take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen. If it is a chronic case of olecranon bursitis the treatment varies such as teaching you how to avoid leaning on your elbows, using anti-inflammatory medications, and how to protect your elbow from injuries.
These are deep skin infections that are localized to one certain spot on your body. They are not a dangerous skin infection but they can be unsightly and painful. You can treat them at home using natural remedies. These can develop for many different reasons but all have a common factor, which is the development of some type of infection in your skin that is localized to that area. They can develop if you have a hair that becomes ingrown in a hair follicle, a broken area on your skin such as having a splinter, or other infections. They develop because the bacteria that has invaded your skin has infected the deeper layers of your skin If the boil is very large you should see your dermatologist or physician to have it lanced and the fluid inside drawn out.
Sometimes home remedies do not work so when treating them at home you should monitor them closely to make sure they are not becoming worse. Home remedies work best if you can start to treat them as soon as you notice a boil appearing. The most effective home treatment is to apply heat to the boil to improve circulation to the area. Using heat will help to bring the infection fighting antibodies along with immune cells to the area of the boil. You can apply heath with a warm washcloth or soak your elbow is a warm bath. With a boil you should have it lanced and drained in a physician or dermatologist office although you can do it at home. You just need to be careful that you wash your hands before doing the procedure and what you are using to lance the boil is sterile.
This is an infected, inflamed nodule that is filled with pus and can cause bumps on elbows. What treatment is used depends on where it is located and how severe it is. If you do not have it treated it can rupture, allowing the infection in the nodule to spread. It is often a hard, raised nodule and mostly occur below the surface of your skin. It is initiated by the introduction of some type of foreign matter like a sliver of glass, a wooden splinter, etc. When the area becomes irritated it will have a reddish hue along with tenderness in the area. It may also feel warm to the touch. You can treat it at home by applying warm compresses to the area several times during the day in order to draw the infection to the surface of your skin. This will cause the nodule to rupture outwardly, getting rid of the infection. Once this happens gently clean the area with antibacterial soap, apply antibacterial ointment and cover with a bandage to prevent any germs to get into the area and cause another infection.
Many times when a person has an insect bite their skin will react to the toxins that were injected into their body by the insect that bit them, causing red, itchy, swollen skin bumps on elbows. You can a reaction to a variety of insects such as mites, mosquitoes, fleas, bed bugs, spiders, and more. If you are not sure what type of insect bit you then you may need to see your physician for treatment if home remedies do not seem to help. For the itching you can take over-the-counter anti-itch medications. At home you can wash the itchy bumps on elbows with pure aloe Vera gel to get quick relief. Using a cold compress will also help with the relief from itching.
If you are not sure what has caused the bumps on elbows it is best to see your physician or dermatologist to find out the cause so if treatment it needed the right one can be started. For the itchy bumps on elbows try to avoid scratching them as it can cause a secondary skin infection. Use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and anti-itch medications to help with the itching and swelling. Sometimes having bumps on elbows can be caused by an allergic reaction to some type of medication or food so to treat this you should avoid what caused the allergic reaction. Do not stop any medications but talk to your physician or dermatologist to see if the medication can be changed to another that do not give you this side effect.