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Finger Infection

Finger Infection Facts

Finger infection is a common problem. Infection can range from mild to serious, potentially causing permanent loss of function of the involved finger. Often these infections start out small and are relatively easy to treat. Failure to properly treat finger infections can result in permanent disability and even loss of the finger.

Early recognition and proper treatment of the following main types of finger infections will help prevent most of the serious outcomes.

  • Paronychia: A paronychia 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: A felon is an infection of the fingertip. This infection is located in the fingertip pad and soft tissue associated with it.
  • Herpetic whitlow: A herpetic whitlow 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: This 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.
  • Infectious flexor tenosynovitis: This infection involves the tendon sheaths responsible for flexing or closing the hand. This is also a type of deep space infection and more frequently occurs in individuals with underlying suppressed immune systems.
  • 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.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/19/2016

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Finger Infection - Treatment

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Paronychia Treatment

If an abscess (pus pocket) has formed, the recommended treatment is to drain the abscess by doing an incision and drainage procedure.

  • A doctor will most likely use a medicine (such as lidocaine) to numb the entire finger first and then will open the abscess using a surgical knife (scalpel).
  • Sometimes packing called a wick is placed in the abscess to allow it to continue to drain when one goes home and to keep it from closing up and reforming the abscess. The packing is usually left in for 24-48 hours.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Paronychia »

Paronychia is a soft tissue infection around a fingernail.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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