A finger infection that is caused by a virus is called herpetic whitlow. Reddening of the skin and swelling of the finger are common symptoms and signs of herpetic whitlow. The noticeable signs are the blisters and lesion on the infected finger. You may feel unbearable pain from this infection. But, what really causes herpetic whitlow?
This infection can infect people of all ages, from young kids to adults. For children, the primary cause is thumb sucking. Children have a habit of chewing their fingers, especially the thumb. This should really be stopped, especially if the child is exposed to herpes simplex virus 1 or HSV1. This virus usually infects the nose, face, mouth or lips, so if the child has HSV1 or cold sores in the mouth, his or her finger and thumb will get infected by this virus. For adults, herpes simplex virus 2 or HSV2 is possible, but the percentage of people exposed to HSV2 is low. This usually occurs in genitals or buttocks and once they have touched their genitals or buttocks, their hands or fingers will get infected by HSV2.
Health workers or dental workers are more likely to be exposed to this infection. They have physical contact to the people who may have herpes simplex virus or HSV1, so it is very convenient for the virus to enter their hands. Because of the working environment, their surroundings can easily be contaminated by the herpes virus and can easily diffuse to another person. Having cuts or wounds on your hands or fingers will increase the risk of contracting the virus. It is highly recommended for these workers to wear gloves all the time for their own protection.
For people who already have HSV1, be careful not to touch the infected area. The virus is highly contagious and it is easy to transfer to your hands once you have touched the infected area. Be cautious so that you do not spread the virus further. And for those who have HSV2 or genital herpes, it is advisable to prevent sexual contact to avoid transferring the virus to another person.
Even if this infection heals on its own, it is advisable to have your fingers diagnosed by the doctor to determine if there are other complications. This is especially important if you have some history of another sickness that might prolong the infection. Having a history of diabetes may add complications to your herpetic whitlow, so it is best to have an examination.
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