Infected finger or injury to finger/fingers is a common problem. Infection can range from mild to potentially serious. Often these infections start out small and are relatively easy to treat. Failure to properly treat these infections can result in permanent disability or loss of the finger. Early recognition and proper treatment of the following main finger infections will help prevent most of the serious outcomes.
There are many causes of finger infections such as cuts, pet bites or exposure to toxic material. Their ultimate result is in the form of following disorders.
• Paronychia: It is an infection of the finger that involves the tissue at the edges of the fingernail. This infection is usually superficial and localized to the soft tissue and skin around the fingernail. This is the most common bacterial infection seen in the hand.
• Felon: It is an infection of the fingertip. This infection is located in the fingertip pad and soft tissue associated with it.
• Herpetic whitlow: It is an infection of the fingertip area caused by a virus. This is the most common viral infection of the hand. This infection is often misdiagnosed as a paronychia or felon.
• Cellulitis: It is a superficial infection of the skin and underlying tissue. It is usually on the surface and does not involve deeper structures of the hand or finger.
• Flexor tenosynovitis: It is an infection that involves the tendon sheaths responsible for flexing or closing the hand. This is also a type of deep space infection.
• Deep space infection: This is an infection of one or several deep structures of the hand or fingers, including the tendons, blood vessels, and muscles. Infection may involve one or more of these structures. A collar button abscess is such an infection when it is located in the web space of the fingers.
Finger Infection Treatment
Self-Care at Home
• Because finger infections have the potential to become severe, home care is limited. A very minor infection may be managed at home if you have no other complicating medical illness, such as diabetes. All of the other infections require urgent evaluation and treatment by a doctor. Because delay in treatment may result in disability or loss of the finger, you should not hesitate to obtain medical care.
• A small, simple infection may respond to frequent warm water soaks and elevation of the hand. However, if no improvement is noticed in 1-2 days, you should see your doctor at once.
The mandatory treatment for finger infections is giving suitable antibiotics to patient and proper bandage of the wounded area on the finger. The wound intensity varies in every case. So the treatment ranges from a simple bandage to an extensive surgery to clean up the contagious puss as much as possible.
The medical treatment prescribed for the above mention infections according to skin specialists is as:
• Paronychia: Occasionally the treatment is just the cleaning of the wounds. For any complication, the doctor might bandage the wound with a proper antiseptic
• Felon: Mostly incision is advised by the doctor which is the only solution for this type of infection
• Herpetic whitlow: Antiviral shortens the duration of illness. Pain killers often needed. The wound must be properly protected to prevent a secondary bacterial infection and to prevent you from infecting other sites on your body or other people
• Cellulitis: Contagious so proper treatment is most cases is given in hospital
• Flexor tenosynovitis: This is a surgical infection. Proper care is requires after the surgery to avoid bacterial re attack
• Deep space infections: This is also a surgical situation as in fluxor case
Common sense safety practices will help prevent many of the finger wounds that become a problem. Simple things such as wearing protective work gloves may prevent injury. Wearing latex or vinyl gloves is mandatory if possible exposure to bodily fluids is expected. Avoid chewing on your nails, and wash your hands as needed. Seek early medical attention before an infection is present.
When to Seek Medical Care
The key to preventing disability and possible loss of the finger is early and appropriate treatment. If any signs and symptoms are present, you should contact your doctor at once.
If you have signs or symptoms of a felon, cellulitis, flexor tenosynovitis, or deep space infection, you should seek emergency care at once to avoid complications from an infected finger.