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Herpetic Whitlow: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

herpetic whitlow

What is Herpetic Whitlow?

One of the many infections brought about by the so-called herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a herpetic whitlow. It is a type of medical condition that affects the finger/s of a certain individual who has been exposed to the mentioned virus. Whether it be HSV-1 or HSV-2, these two infectious strains trigger herpetic whitlow.

Being aware of this medical condition can alleviate your risk of having serious herpes-induced diseases. It appears on one or two fingers, especially where the flesh is located. It can be painful, particularly the development of small blisters and annoying sores. This infection is highly contagious. If only one finger is infected, ensure that you practice the right treatment to stop the transmission, whether to other fingers or any part of your body.

What are the condition’s signs and symptoms?

Since this medical condition is caused by the herpes simplex virus, the signs and symptoms that infected individuals experience are the same as other infections associated with herpes. However, the only difference is the location as to where the outbreaks occur or emerge.

For this specific infection, the main infected area of the body is your fingers. That means that sores or blisters appear on this body part. For more information on its signs and symptoms, consider the following:

  • The appearance of painful blisters (sometimes red or white)
  • Development of annoying cold sores
  • Swollen fingers
  • Itchiness or inflammation of your fingers

If you have been infected on your fingers, you will notice the appearance of fluid-filled blisters. It can sometimes be painful and itchy. Avoid bursting it as it can go more severe. Sometimes, these blisters burst on their own. It can also heal by itself after a few weeks.

If you suspect having herpetic whitlow, consult your healthcare professional immediately to get the necessary treatment and avoid acquiring more health complications.

What causes herpetic whitlow?

Transmission involving this virus can happen by means of direct contact with the skin of a person who has the virus. it can be spread from touching the genitals or hands of someone who has active sores or blisters on these parts of the body. Sometimes, you also get herpetic whitlow as a result of having contracted herpes.

In terms of the type of people who are at high risk of acquiring the said condition are those who are in the medical field. This includes healthcare professionals, even dentists, who treat and conduct medical approaches to those who have the herpes simplex virus.

As already known, when herpes is treated, it does not just vanish from the body. Even after careful treatment, the virus remains inside and stays dormant. In terms of herpetic whitlow, since it has the same type of virus, the infection can only reoccur when something triggers it. But what are those factors that provoke the virus to function again? Consider the following:

  • Episodes of fever or a general sensation of discomfort
  • Illnesses that reoccur
  • After surgeries
  • Weakened or impaired immune system
  • Stress and emotional imbalance

How is the infection diagnosed?

The diagnosis involving herpetic whitlow will depend on the symptoms provided above. However, some sores or blisters that you see on your finger do not imply herpetic whitlow infection. To ensure that you get the right diagnosis and to start your treatment immediately, discuss the development of these symptoms with your healthcare professional.

Complications of the said infection

The complications involving the said medical condition can only happen if there are no precautionary measures performed. That is why it is necessary to cover the infected area to avoid spreading it to other fingers or any part of your body. Also, avoid rubbing your eyes if you have active sores or blisters, as the virus can enter the eyes and cause more harm to that body part.

What is the best treatment to be administered?

The infection can disappear on its own, especially its symptoms. However, to alleviate the discomfort and physical affliction that you will experience during outbreaks, consuming antiviral drugs can help. What are these types of medicines? These antiviral drugs are known as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir. They are available in two different forms – pills and ointments.

If the pain is too much to handle, there are available medicines that you can use to ease that sensation. Some of the most common pain relievers are Tylenol and Advil.

What are the necessary steps to prevent herpetic whitlow?

Aside from the availability of the mentioned drugs, there are ways to prevent or treat herpetic whitlow in the comfort of your home. Some of these include covering the area where the infection is present, avoiding bursting or popping an active blister, keeping your hands clean by washing them with clean water, and letting your healthcare professional know how the treatment is going. Doing these actions can help in providing medical care or therapy to yourself and others.

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