Herpetic whitlow or whitlow is a painful viral infection caused by the virus called herpes simplex virus. The virus affects more than one finger. Type 1 and 2 herpes simplex viruses are accountable for the condition. The terminal phalanx is affected by the viruses.
Once the finger is affected, the victim experiences intense pain combined with inflammation, redness and itching. Vesicular blisters develop, causing pain and inconvenience. The condition can get very severe and result in fever, combined with rigor, inflamed lymph nodes and depression. The time span of the infection is usually 2 weeks to 5 weeks.
Children are usually affected by HSV1 type of infection while HSV2 infection is sexually transmitted. The symptoms prevalent in the former type of infection are cold sores, eruptions on lips, face, fingers and mouth. Soreness in genital area is the symptom in HSV2 infection.
Care should be taken to avoid the spread of the infection. People involved in health care are more prone to being infected by the viruses. Body fluid from infected persons will transmit the infection on contact, which makes wearing gloves a necessity while dealing with patients. Care should be taken when treating open injuries. The low immunity level of HIV persons makes them all the more vulnerable to the infection. Observe safe sex and use condoms as preventive measures against the condition. Chewing of fingers in small children and biting nails should be prevented to eliminate the spreading of the infection.
Herpetic whitlow runs its course of two weeks before it subsides. Viral vaccination administered through broken skin or cuticle makes the virus enter the tissues. Though symptoms like fever and depression are shown in victims, the most common signs are severe pain with burning sensation on the finger that is infected. A cluster of vesicles with clear liquid can be observed. This is the most contagious stage in herpetic whitlow. If anyone happens to have contact with the liquid, chances are that he will be affected by the infection. Incidences of repetition of the condition are noticed, however, they are generally milder than the first infection.
Both sexes are equally prone to the viruses of herpetic whitlow. Delayed resolution as well as bacterial super infection is the noted complications of the virus infection. Proper care and medication is essential to treat the infection. Though herpetic whitlow resolves itself in due time, effective drugs can help to cure it faster, lessening pain and other signs.
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