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Bumps on Elbows

Have you notice a bump on your elbow? Having an unusual bump on the elbow can be very alarming, especially if it is itchy and painful.

There are a variety of reasons why you have a bump on your elbow. It could be caused by simple skin rash or could indicate an underlying serious medical condition.

If the bump on the elbow has been around for quite a while now and does not seem to go away despite home treatment, the best thing to do is to consult your doctor right away. (1, 2)

Tiny red bumps on the elbow secondary to insect bites.image

Photo 1: Tiny red bumps on the elbow secondary to insect bites.
Picture Source: www.healthedition.org

A large and reddened boil on the elbow area.photo

Image 2: A large and reddened boil on the elbow area.
Photo Source: i.pinimg.com

A large number of tiny red bumps on the skin which is a clinical manifestation of dermatitis herpetiformis.image

Photo 3: A large number of tiny red bumps on the skin which is a clinical manifestation of dermatitis herpetiformis.
Picture Source: upload.wikimedia.org

Possible causes of bumps on elbows

Non-itchy bumps on elbows

  • Cyst – It is a sac-like growth on the skin that may contain liquid, semi-solid, or gaseous substance. The size varies from small to large. There are various reasons for the development of cyst. It could be due to obstructed blood flow, chronic inflammation, tumor, or infection.
  • Shingles – It is caused by varicella zoster virus, the very same virus that caused chicken pox.
  • Lyme disease – it is a disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi and can be contacted by a tick bite. You will notice a small red bump on the bite site and after several days, you will notice that the bite site becomes reddened, inflamed, and appear to have a bull’s eye pattern. (3)
  • Granuloma annulare/necrotic papulosis – Tiny bumps on elbows that form a circular shaped ring which is not itchy in nature. It commonly affects both young and old, but the prevalence is higher in women than men. The exact cause is unknown. Topical steroid ointment is commonly used to help get rid of the bump. (4)

Itchy red bumps on elbows

  • Dermatitis herpetiformis – it is an itchy bump on the elbow characterized by a blister filled with watery fluid. It commonly affects people in mid-teens to middle age. The bump on the elbow is usually half an inch across. The itching is mild to severe and sometimes, it is difficult for the person to sleep soundly at night. Scratching the area could lead to secondary skin infection.
  • Scabies – It is caused by mites burrowed under the skin. It commonly affects the skin folds. The skin colored bumps on elbows are red in color and are very itchy. Scabies is a contagious skin disease. People who have scabies should actively take measures to treat the disease. Scabies is treated using prescription medications. (4, 5)
  • Olecranon bursitis – Bursitis is an inflammation of the small sac of fluids that enables the joints to move smoothly. Olecranon bursitis is also called Popeye elbow because the bump on the elbow looks like the famous cartoon character Popeye. What causes raised bumps on elbow? It can be caused by a sudden blow to the elbow such as in the case of trauma or injury. Clinical manifestations include painful elbow, swelling, redness, and warmth. The patient will have a fever and a swollen lymph nodes in the armpit. (6)
  • Poison ivy – It is an allergic reaction to parts of the plants such as the stems, roots, and leaves. Allergic reaction is characterized by red skin blister along with severe itching. The treatment includes application of over the counter anti-itch drugs.
  • Boils – Boils are deep skin infection localized in a particular area of the body. A boil does not possess any serious health implication but can be extremely painful. It causes discomfort not only because of the pain but because it is unsightly to see. It is usually treated at home using natural remedies. Possible causes of boil are ingrown hair follicle and skin infection. The bacteria causing boil invades the deep layer of the skin. If home remedies don’t work, the best thing to do is to consult your doctor. The doctor will drain the boil and will prescribe drugs to alleviate pain and prevent secondary infection. (6)
  • Insect Bites – The skin reacts to the toxins that were injected into the skin. Insect bites cause redness, swelling, and itching of the skin. The skin reacts differently to different types of insects such as mosquitoes, flies, spiders, and the likes. Insect bites usually resolve on their own using natural home remedies. However, if the insect bites do not seem to go away and you are not as sure as to what type of insect has bitten you, the best thing to do is to consult your doctor. Insect bites may seem like a minor stuff but if left untreated could lead to infection, which could be difficult to treat once in the advanced stage.
  • Abscess – What causes itchy rash on elbows? It could be caused by an infected and inflamed nodule. It is filled with pus that is why you notice a bump on your elbow. An abscess that is left untreated could lead to rupture, which increases the possibility of secondary infection. The skin becomes warm to touch and inflamed. If it so happened that the abscess has ruptured, make sure you clean the area with antibacterial soap. Apply antibacterial ointment afterwards. To prevent secondary infection, you should cover the area with a clean bandage. (6, 7)

How to get rid of bumps on elbows?

What is the best way to treat bumps on the elbows? It depends on the underlying cause. If it is caused by bacterial infection, then the patient should use antibiotic drugs. The strain of bacteria should be identified first before starting any antibiotic therapy.

If it is cause by cyst, then it should be removed surgically. It is a minor surgical procedure done in the doctor’s office under local anesthesia. The procedure is easy and would only take a few minutes. For bumps that come with inflammation and itching, an anti-inflammatory drug is used. For severe itching, the patient is put on anti-itch medication. The root cause of the problem should be identified first before starting any medical intervention. (8, 9, 10)


  1. www.hopkinsmedicine.org
  2. healthh.com
  3. www.healtreatcure.org
  4. www.livestrong.com
  5. www.wowremedies.com
  6. www.hopkinsmedicine.org
  7. www.treatnheal.com
  8. www.lightskincure.org
  9. health.knowfacts.org
  10. www.healtholino.com

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