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How do I Treat a Finger Infection?

Treating a finger infection promptly is crucial to prevent complications. Begin with gentle cleansing and warm soaks to reduce swelling. Over-the-counter antibiotics can help, but persistent or severe cases require medical attention. Remember, your fingers are vital for daily tasks—don't take risks. Wondering about the signs that indicate it's time to see a doctor? Keep reading to ensure your finger's health.
Ron Marr
Ron Marr

Any minor infection can turn into a major problem if left untreated. This goes for the finger as well as other parts of the body. The best way to treat a finger infection is to clean and disinfect a cut or wound immediately after it occurs. The same holds true for a finger infection that has developed due to a fungus or a virus. Early detection and treatment are the keys to stopping such an infection in its tracks.

If your finger has been cut, the first step is to wash it thoroughly with warm water, cleaning out any dirt — and with it, bacteria — that would love to make its way into your bloodstream. After the finger has dried, pour hydrogen peroxide over the wound, continuing to pour until all bubbling has stopped. Next, apply a triple antibiotic ointment to the damaged area and cover it with a clean bandage. This is the cure-all for minor cuts, scrapes, slices, and abrasions. If a cut is deep, and if you even suspect you need stitches, you should pay a visit to the emergency room for more in-depth care and a possible tetanus shot.

After applying ointment to the infection area, cover the finger with a bandage.
After applying ointment to the infection area, cover the finger with a bandage.

The cuticle is very prone to infection. Technically, this sort of finger infection is known as a paronychia. If the skin around the fingernail is cut, it can be infected with staph bacteria. This will lead to redness, swelling, and an ugly, pus-filled blister under the skin. Treat a paronychia in much the same way you would treat a cut, but soak the affected finger in the peroxide for 10 or 15 minutes. If you don’t have peroxide handy, an equal mix of white vinegar and water may work almost as well.

A herpetic whitlow.
A herpetic whitlow.

To further treat this infection, apply an ointment specifically designed for staph bacteria, and cover the damaged area with a bandage. Avoid any hand washing for at least 30 minutes after application, and re-apply the ointment every four to six hours. If the infection does not clear up in a few days, you should visit your doctor.

Most people do not realize that your hand can catch a virus, but it is very possible. This type of finger infection is of the herpetic variety, and is often misdiagnosed as a paronychia. Ointments geared to fight bacteria are ineffective against a virus, and you will need to obtain a prescription for an antiviral drug. It is very important that a virus on the finger – known as a herpetic whitlow – be kept clean and covered. Otherwise, you not only run the risk of contracting a bacterial infection, you could well spread the virus to other areas of your body.

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Discussion Comments

anon357510

Just go to the doctor and get the correct antibiotics. It saves all of the hassle.

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    • After applying ointment to the infection area, cover the finger with a bandage.
      By: JPC-PROD
      After applying ointment to the infection area, cover the finger with a bandage.
    • A herpetic whitlow.
      By: Rob Byron
      A herpetic whitlow.
    • Antibiotic ointment should be applied to a finger that may be infected.
      By: Tinga
      Antibiotic ointment should be applied to a finger that may be infected.
    • Deep finger cuts and infection might require an emergency room visit.
      By: SeanPavonePhoto
      Deep finger cuts and infection might require an emergency room visit.
    • A cut finger should be washed thoroughly with warm water to avoid infection.
      By: F.C.G.
      A cut finger should be washed thoroughly with warm water to avoid infection.
    • Washing the cut with soap and water is the first step in wound treatment.
      By: samantha grandy
      Washing the cut with soap and water is the first step in wound treatment.