This is a painful and contagious illness that affects the fingers near the nails. The tingling sensation induced by whitlow in the fingertips is excruciating and comparable to the discomfort caused by a strong headache.

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 and type 2 are the cause of whitlow, that’s why whitlow is also called herpetic whitlow. When broken skin on the fingers, such as a tiny cut, comes into touch with HSV-infected bodily fluids, it can get infected with the virus.

If you have a herpes simplex virus infection elsewhere in your body, the virus can spread to your finger when you touch the lesion. If you don’t have a history of HSV, herpetic whitlow may develop if you come in contact with herpes sores or blisters, which can transmit the virus from one person to another.

Symptoms of  whitlow 

  •  A burning sensation, itchy sensation, tingling, or other strange feelings in the hands.
  •  The appearance of tiny pimples, sores, or fluid-filled blisters on your finger
  •  Redness, warmth, or swelling of your finger.

Burning or tingling sensation or pain can occur before the finger swells. Whitlow can be very intensely painful, but fortunately, it occurs just once in many people who get infected.

A herpes simplex virus infection can cause various symptoms in your body in addition to the whitlow signs on your fingers. Any of these signs and symptoms could point to a dangerous infection:

  •  Other blisters or lesions on the body 
  •  Enlarged lymph nodes in the arms (near the elbow or underarm)
  •  Fever
  •  Red streaks on the arms (lymphangitis)
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Treatment of herpetic whitlow

If you get whitlow on a regular or severe occurrence, your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to help prevent or lessen the severity of future infections. Within 48 hours of the symptoms showing, an antiviral table should be used.

Antiviral tablets can help your finger to heal more quickly. The condition usually heals within 2-4 weeks without medication, but a prescription antiviral drug can shorten the duration of an outbreak. Without treatment, herpetic whitlow tends to go away in 2-4 weeks, antiviral medications limit the appearance of symptoms by up to 4 days. These can also prevent the virus from spreading to other parts of the body.

Antiviral medications include: valacyclovir pill, acyclovir pills, famciclovir pill, acyclovir ointment

You may also need painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to ease the pain.

Whitlow is rarely linked to a major medical problem. If your whitlow, or that of someone you’re with, is accompanied by a high fever (greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), confusion, or even a momentary loss of consciousness, seek medical help right once.

Herpetic whitlow can come back, once you have the virus, it stays in your body for the rest of your life. It might come back if you have a cut or sore on your finger, if you’re feeling excessive stress or unwell, or when you have a weakened immunes system. The infection reoccurs in 30-50% of people who develop it, with the same symptoms, in the same place. The second time is less severe than the first infection. There may be fewer blisters, which may be smaller and less painful.

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If your whitlow is persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern, seek medical help immediately.

Home remedies to cure Whitlow

There are many home remedies to cure infected finger quickly by soaking it in the following solution:

– A mixture of pre-boiled warm water with antibacterial soap for 15 minutes, two to four times a day

– Water with Epsom salt to relax the area and provide pain relief

– Apple cider vinegar, which is antibacterial and antifungal.

– A warm water antiseptic solution

Ingredients: palm oil and lime.

Preparation: Apply palm oil to the affected area. 

Nature remedy with palm oil and lime

Then make a hole on lime fruit and fit or dip the affected finger inside the lime for 30 minutes, 3 times daily. The pus will certainly come out after some days

However, all these methods are not recommended by specialists. Herpetic whitlow tends to go away without treatment in a few weeks, and treatment by antiviral tables is very simple and effective. So it’s better to see a GP instead of treatment by yourself.

Things you can do to help prevent the infection of whitlow

– To avoid being infected by others who have the virus, don’t share personal belongings.

– Avoid sucking or chewing your fingers because it weakens the nail structure, making viral entry easier and increasing the chance of illness spreading.

– Carefully cut and trim your nails to avoid harming the skin, which raises the risk of herpes infection.

– Wash the hands: doing so frequently and thoroughly is key, especially before and after touching an area of whitlow.

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– Wearing contact lenses should be avoided until the whitlow is effectively treated as you can spread the infection to your eye.

– Do not touch other parts of your body or other people with your infected finger

– Do not try to drain the fluid from the swelling because you risk spreading the herpes virus to other places of your body.

– Finally, keep your finger clean and cover it with a light dressing to contain the infection, removing it only to apply the medication.

Whitlow and paronychia

Whitlow and paronychia are infections on the finger with the same symptoms such as swelling, redness, and pus if a secondary bacterial infection develops in the area of a whitlow infection. Whitlow is more painful than paronychia.

A herpetic whitlow can appear anywhere on your finger, but it usually affects the top of your finger (fingertip). Paronychia is an inflammation of the skin around the nail, so it affects the top of the finger or at the base of the nail, which can occur suddenly.

 The cause of paronychia is the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus or the fungus Candida albicans while the cause of whitlow is herpes simplex virus, which leads to different treatments: antiviral table for whitlow and antibacterial or antifungal medication for paronychia.

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