Mysterious finger rash, solved!

The Pediatric Insider

© 2012 Roy Benaroch, MD

In the good old days, docs could discover new things, and name them after themselves. These are probably thousands of these eponyms: Osler’s Nodes, the Sphincter of Oddi, Rovsing’s Sign, Sinding-Larssen-Johansson Syndrome—there are hundreds of these for doctors to reel off, impressing patients and medical students alike. Names like these aren’t really in style now, but I figure if I find something cool, maybe I can squeeze in one more eponymous disease?

Presenting: Benaroch’s Palmar-Piscinian Dermatitis

Two brothers presented in the summer simultaneously with a red rash on their fingertips, sparing the folds of the knuckles. The rash was only on the palmar surfaces of the hands. Here’s what it looks like:

Upon questioning, it was discovered that the boys had been playing “Sharks and Minnows” in the pool for several hours, and gripping the concrete sides of the pool with their fingers.

The family was reassured, and the boys were sent back to the pool.

There. Now I am famous. Yay!

7/30/2019 edit: It looks like someone named this “pool palms” in 2015. Their name is snappier, but I was first! I also have some new photos donated by a doc in the UK of his kiddo with same rash, see below!

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51 Comments on “Mysterious finger rash, solved!”

  1. ReadingMom Says:

    Mine came back from a pool party crying with pain at a rash that looked like this. Frankly, I’m reassured to see this post. We were slightly worried she’d touched a bag of pool shock or somehow gotten a chemical burn. About 1 – 1.5 hours in a new concrete pool. But we’d never seen that reaction from hours in the pool at the Y so we didn’t think of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lisa Says:

    I’m so glad I saw this post too! My daughter had the exact red marks on her fingertips. I was stumped for a couple of days, and scared by the posts of cancer and all sorts of horrible possibilities once comes across on the web. I found this and thought-this looks just like what she has. She was at a pool party a few days ago and told me she had been doing the same thing- gripping the cement. Mystery solved again-THANK YOU!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amanda Says:

    I’m happy to see the too. My son came back from a pool party the other day with the same thing. I thought it must be from the concrete around the pool and you have not only confirmed this but eased my mind. Thanks for sharing:)


  4. Tomasina Bersiikaa Says:

    Thank you for this post! My 5 year old boy started to scratch the inside of his palm, saying it was itchy and then I saw his palm all red and his finger tips as well with a rash. I was stumped. I thought it was some form of contact dermatitis. Anyway, thanks to your post I now know it was from the pool. Earlier today, for the first time he started to climb along the side of the pool holding the cemented rocks, going back and forth. So, there you go. Thank you a bunch.


  5. Ivan Chung-Kwan Says:

    Omg I have this I’m only 15 and I’ve been at my aunties house for a 2 days and on both those days I’ve had swim and I suddenly got a rash on my finger tips the first time and so I got a bit worried but I had another swim and it felt like it was getting bigger and I thought it was gonna get really bad, but then I found this. Thank you so much, I was so worried. THANKS YOU AGAIN!


  6. Betsy Says:

    Thanks! Solved the problem with my son as well. He is in the pool all the time with no problems, so I didn’t even think that could be a connection. But yesterday he was in the pool for hours playing “war” with his friends and so was in and out of the water and grabbing onto the edge much more than usual. Who knew concrete pool edges would do this.


  7. Marko Says:

    What medication was used to treat this??


  8. Dr. Roy Says:

    You don’t need any medicine. It’s just skin rubbed off from the swimming pool. It’s nothing at all to worry about or treat.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. michelle Says:

    Omg we r on holiday and have just seen tjos my 5 yr old boy has beensaying his fingers r sore ad hurt and they look just like this.He also has been in the pool for hours yesterday and today and has been holding on to the sides all the time thank u so much can enjoy the rest of our week now !!!. Do we do anything to help with it??


  10. Mally arty Says:

    Thank you for the original post and picture and for taking the time to upload it. My daughter has been playing in the pool on holiday and we were getting worried about the same symptoms. No need to worry now. We just need to go and get some diving gloves as we are on day one of our holiday and don’t want it getting any worse!


  11. That is one high-quality eponym.


  12. Nicky Says:

    Our son had same looking blisters on his big toes on the first day of our holiday. Within 2 hours of being in the pool. Now he has them on all his toes and now his fingertip pads also. He says they hurt. And the blisters on his big toes did end up bleeding. But he has spent hours in the pool for 8 days now (we are on holiday). I had diagnosed hand, foot and mouth but now wonder if it is actually this. There are porcelain tiles in pool, and around the edges. Could it still be this?
    Thanks for all help.
    Worried Mum 😟


  13. Dr. Roy Says:

    Nicky, I couldn’t say without seeing him. Most kids with hand-foot-mouth are ill; if this was from the swimming pool, I’d think he’d otherwise feel just fine.


  14. Kimberly Says:

    My daughter had the exact same rash last summer. We did extensive tests to rule out auto immune disease and everything came back clear. Now she’s been swimming in our pool again for a week and the rash is back. It is def not because she grips the sides of the pool. Our pool is deep and she is a good swimmer. I am at a loss.


  15. Suzanne Christian Says:

    Hi my daughter has exactly the same. She has T1 diabetes. She is a real fish and always swims but this is the first year this has happened. She says it’s sore, so should I just treat it with Aloe Vera ? Also is her skin thinner because of her diabetes ?


  16. Tom V Says:

    Wow, I’ve had a condition very similar to this for 2 months now. Been to 2 docs. It’s painful too. It’s hard to open jars or start my car (key twist).


  17. Kimberly Says:

    Have you swam in a particular pool for the past two months? This summer we switched ours to salt and chlorine combo and my daughter still has the rash but only slight. It made a big difference.


  18. Tom V Says:

    Nah. Haven’t been swimming at all. The docs told me it’s:
    1. rash from steel wool in fingers(I refinished a table)
    2. rash from exposure to weeds I was pulling last fall
    3. Yesterday was told it’s a chronic condition brought on by cold weather. Forget the name . . . long word begins with P.
    Anyway, I’m waiting on a biopsy.
    Really? ; (


  19. Leeanda Says:

    Been swimming in pool and now my fingers are tingling and sore why is this


  20. alyssa Says:

    Thank you! We are out of town and last time I took hiim to a dr. out of town we ended up out of network with a $400 bill for a regular office visit. My child has the exact hands as this photo and has also been playing in the pool most of the day. This post really makes me feel better. thank you!


  21. So…What to do? How to treat and how to avoid for future. My son has major competition in a few days and has worked so hard to get to this point and may have to forfeit as everything hurts to the the touch. Derm gave topical steroid and topical antibiotic to put on but I am skeptical if this will help. He is also sitting out of camp activities to avoid swim and anything suing his fingers ( say everything) and soon to be going on 2 week vacation that he won’t enjoy if no swimming or touching. Hurts to get dressed.Please advise – anyone and especially Dr. Roy. Help! Anyone do something that really helped or healed it quickly or prevented it from re-occurring?


  22. Dr. Roy Says:

    Michelle, what I’m talking about here doesn’t have any symptoms– it doesn’t hurt, doesn’t bother the child, and can (and should) be ignored. No treatment and no prevention is needed.

    You said “everything hurts to the touch” — that’s not what I’m talking about in this post. He needs to work with his local docs who’ve seen and examined him for advice.


  23. Dr. Roy,

    Thank you so much for your responding. My son’s hands look identical to the picture in your article and he was swimming for several hours in a pool holding onto hot concrete and then this appeared. Exact same pattern , location, almost like a visual twin.
    He also has on big toes from concrete as well.

    So, there was no soreness at all with these brothers in the article?? wow.

    Some had mentioned in their comments that when they went back in pool it had reappeared? We have never seen this and I was not able to find other articles such as yours. I had mentioned your article to the doctor and he seemed to agree and prescribed antibiotic & steroid ointment for 2 weeks.

    I showed a friend a picture of my sons fingers and she said oh yes my boys would get that from the pool and I was surprised that she knew immediately what this looked like. I didn’t ask about soreness.

    I just need it to get better in 2.5 days for previously mentioned reasons. Not sure if I should continue rx ointments (as I have heard steroid can thin out skin) or switch to innocuous things like aloe vera or calendula? How long before the boys in your article or patients get better? DId any patients have soreness or describe it hurting when water hit it?

    I really appreciate your replying to my comment. Just don’t know what to do to try to get it to heal as quickly as possible or prevent for future.

    Thank you,


  24. Dr. Roy Says:

    Michelle, perhaps your child was especially aggressive with his grabbing of the hot concrete. I don’t think there’s really anything more you can do to speed this along. I’d follow the directions from the doc who saw him.

    Maybe next time put some towels across the edge of the pool. That might be easier on his hands.


  25. Dr. Roy,
    Thank you again for responding and having a site like this where we can reach out and ask you a question. I have enjoyed reading your posts.


  26. Kimberly Says:

    I posted months ago but in regards to your recent comments…
    My daughters rash started just like the pics but the more she swam the more painful they became. It’s absolutely not from the concrete or a burn. She flares up in the summer when she swims and the only thing to get it to go away is time out of the pool. After a week it’s gone. We were away this summer and it didn’t have time to get to the painful stage. It’s frustrating bc it’s our pool.. Not swim lesson pool, friends, hotels… And we changed it to clorene/ saltwater combo. I think it’s helping but not eradicated. Good luck and tell me if u find a solution!


  27. Hi Kimberly and thank you for sharing your experience with this.
    He has a big weekend coming up and has been sitting out at camp for past few days not really participating . I was going to see if he can try to swim tomorrow ( 2x/day at camp) but now I will not push for it as I don’t want to exasperate it further. Is your daughter’s like an eczema type dermatitis, as I came across something stating that could be the reaction from the pool? My son also said his big toes ( on bottom) hurt but they are not as red as his fingers. Once your daugher resumes swimming , how quickly does it return? I am still applying the RX ointments am/pm but tried to put a little calendula ointment on in between. I think it may be getting a bit better from a few days ago. I would like to stop the RX as I have heard steroid creams can thin out the skin. I will share if I think something works. After I ditch the RX , I may also try aloe vera/ coconut oil or stick with calendula. What is a summer for kids without some swimming/pool time? I don’t want him to be afraid to enjoy the pool for fear this will occur again, so I hope to figure out some solutions and hope to have something to share back. Thanks for commenting.


  28. Davishia Says:

    Well my son has it and hasnt been to any pool


  29. Stephanie Says:



  30. Michelle Says:

    While I cant tell you a hundred percent what exactly caused it nor can I say what the exact remedy was , I can share with you what I did. I did keep him out of the pool for several days, I did apply a topical antibiotic and steroid given to me from the dermatologist and I also applied a little calendula ointment that I got at the local pharmacy which is all natural and has wonderful healing properties. If you can’t find that one , you can never go wrong with pure Aloe Vera. I won’t know for sure if it was something in the pool and the Chlorine coupled with when your finger tips get wrinkly and perhaps holding onto the side of concrete which is a little rough and hot, or hands on a hot floaty device ? The exact cause unsure but he did present exactly like the photo. It was odd because it was on the fingertips and full hand or palm. As we are on the East Coast and summer is approaching I hope I don’t find myself in the same position again but perhaps some of these tips may be able to help. A friend of mine said her children get this often in the summer but she doesn’t really do anything for it. Only problem was it seem to hurt my son as his was perhaps more tender? Hope some of these tips are somewhat helpful. Anyone else’s tips always welcome. > >


  31. Tara Says:

    My daughter was in pool today and has these on the tips of her fingers. She says it hurts a lil when you touch it. Im hoping that’s all it is. Do you think?


  32. Michelle Says:

    Thats how it was for my son. Although new summer for us and it hasn’t happened again, so who knows why ?


  33. Darcie Says:

    Thank you for posting my daughter has been swimming for several days in our pool and said her fingers kind of hurt when I flipped them over and saw almost a pre-burn on all of her finger tips I started to worry. Now I can relax a bit but I am concerned as she is 6 and loves to swim and it’s our pool at our house, so I don’t know how I’d tell her she can no longer swim. But she originally thought she had a splinter so her tips are sensitive.


  34. Kimberly Hyndman Says:

    Try some topical barrier cream and that might help. We had to change our pool to a salt water and chemical mix and it’s grestly reduced the problem.


  35. Michelle Says:

    My son was in camp and swim was a part of his routine twice a day. I kept him out of pool or swimming until it resolved and healed ( about a week) and we seemed to not have a problem again, I think with it being so hot and holding onto sides (which can have an abrasive edge ) or just hot concrete as well as pool floats getting super hot to touch in the blazing sun ( but it’s not so noticeable when touching while wet) can contribute to them blistering up on fingertips. Makes sense that is where they are touching. Let her heal up next week, put a little aloe or calendula ointment on fingertips , can even use little cotton gloves at bedtime and then slowly resume short swim keeping this in mind. She can still swim but these innocuous contributors can have a blistering effect on fingertips. You can place a towel where she likes to hold on. I am sure she will enjoy many years to come swimming in her pool and this is only temporary but its alarming when it happens and not much info. Watch it will happen again as my son will be all day at original scene of the crime- my in laws pool tomorrow.


  36. Kimberly Hyndman Says:

    Despite what our doctor and the doctor who first commented on this post thought…. my daughters was definitely not from holding onto the side of the pool. She’s 10 and has not needed to hold on for years. It seems more mlike something in certain pools even though we had our water tested and it was fine.


  37. Kimberly Hyndman Says:

    Despite what our doctor and the doctor who first commented on this post thought…. my daughters was definitely not from holding onto the side of the pool. She’s 10 and has not needed to hold on for years. It seems more mlike something in certain pools even though we had our water tested and it was fine.


  38. Michelle Says:

    when it occurred for my son I was not able to see all the the possible contributors or the set up at in laws pool. Maybe he was touching or playing with a hose or pool toy or holding onto a float that was hot in the sun, I will probably never know. I am not sure if in laws pool is salt water or chlorine, but he still swims at camp and it hasnt reoccurred. It did look like the original posting picture and since it hurt him so much I believe he had burned fingertips and maybe even his palms a bit. I am not sure if reaction to pool water as I think that would have appeared on other areas of skin and this was only hands/ fingers in our case.


  39. Judy Says:

    I don’t want to pop anyone’s bubble, but we have a new inground pool that is not concrete and has a soft liner. There is no place they hang onto concrete, but our two grandchildren had the same thing. Th eight year old’s finger tips were not only red but bled the last time he was here. The 4 year old also had it; hers did not bleed but they hurt.
    Our chlorine was very high so we are attributing it to that, but I would like to know how high chlorine in a pool causes that.eldenstielstra


  40. Karen Holey Says:

    My son gets this every year at the start of pool season. I always thought it had to do with the cold water?


  41. Dana Says:

    This is exactly what happened to my daughters fingertips after doing the exact same thing. I just came across your post while googling!
    Thank you!! 🌊🌞


  42. claire Says:

    Amazing how many kids have experienced little girl has the same and I haven’t seen anything like it. I was so worried!


  43. Sherrie Colby Says:

    This has also happened to my daughter! Any suggestions on how to relieve the pain?


  44. Michelle Smith Says:

    Glad this was posted. My daughter showed me her hands tonight and said why are my fingers sore and red. Looks exactly like the photos on here. AND she spend 3 hours in an inground pool today with her friends. When I asked her if she was grabbing the side of the concrete alot she said yes. Totally makes sense. Now she knows she has “Pool Palms”.


  45. Hayley Says:

    Thank you so much for this story. My son spent all day in the pool and now has this on his hands! I was worried but you have really helped me rest assured. Thanks again.


  46. Teresa S Says:

    Oh my gosh! I was freaking out because my daughter had these red fingertips! She was at a friend’s pool with rocks all around climbing them Saturday! All the internet was saying was autoimmune issues, which I have, so I was super worried! Then I did an image search and this is what hers looks like! An external injury with a slight sheen to it! Thank you! Mystery solved!


  47. RepúblicaGT Says:

    My daughter and her cousin had the same thing after going to the pool this weekend, i was freaking out. Thank you for sharing.
    How long does it last? And does that mean each time they will go to this pool that will happen?


  48. Denise Paranihi Says:

    this is fantastic…..we have worked out exactly why she has these now.


  49. Kristin Says:

    Thanks so much! Didn’t even think of the pool for my daughter, but that’s where she was last night. Grateful for the pictures and info. 🙂


  50. Ella Says:

    This article is a brilliant find, I’ve been so worried about this rash! Now makes sense, my son has been in the pool everyday of our holiday. So relieved.


  51. tommykaneko Says:

    We’ve been on holiday at a house with a pool. Went into town and queue me discovering their fingers like this, with my 5 year old saying it was sore.

    My immediate thought was some sort of chemical burn from something they touched in the street. After freaking out, here I am laughing!! Thank you for the report and sharing your discovery with the world!


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