Herpetic Whitlow or whitlow finger is a fingertip infection, an abscess at the end of the finger which is due to an infection with the herpes simplex virus. It causes blister and pain which could be intense, affecting the fleshy part of the fingertip and tends to become red andswollen, besides being painful. White blister are formed beneath the skin of the finger which could break releasing fluid and crusting over.
Two types of herpes simplex virus - HSV, type 1 and type 2, are responsible for herpetic whitlow and these viruses could also cause cold sores as well as genital herpes. If one tends to have cold sore or genital herpes and touch the sore area of the skin, transferring the virus from the mouth or genitals to the finger, the herpetic whitlow could develop as a secondary infection. It could also develop if one tends to touch the sore or blister of another person who may be infected with herpetic whitlow. Besides this if a person has a weak immune system, they could also be vulnerable to this disease.
Symptoms of the Disease
The first symptoms of this disease begin with swelling on the finger causing mild to severe pain and the area which is affected is red and swollen. The area of the thumb or fingers tends to develop lesion and the skin of the affected area gets tender and painful. Some may even experience a burning and tingling feeling and those affected with this disease would find it difficult to function with their daily routine tasks.
Some may also suffer from painful and swollen lymph nodes which could be located under their arms and there are cases of this disease resulting in high fever though they are extremely rare. HSV infection is contagious and can spread by getting in contact with skin lesions which could be infected which tend to appear as small sores or blisters round the nose mouth, buttocks and genitals. However it could develop at any place on the skin and these sores could recur from time to time in the same areas.
Treatment & Medication
Several infections by herpes simplex are easy to diagnose but there could be instances where a swab from the infected skin would need to be tested in the lab by viral culture which would take some days to grow. Besides this,tests of the blood would also be taken. These infections would disappear on their own if not treated, though drugs could reduce the symptoms and lessen the duration of outbreaks. There is no cure for infections of herpes simplex virus.
Though herpetic whitlow symptoms tend to eventually leave on their own, the physician generally prescribes medication like antivirals to overcome the symptoms and end any infection from spreading to others. When the infection tends to get more severe, it would need oral antibiotic pills to treat the areas which are specially infected by a bacterium and though it is rare, this type of infection could return again and can be treated with the same oral antiviral drugs.