Can finger felon heal on its own?

Have you ever looked at your finger and thought how amazing it can be? Imagine a life without fingers, it must have been difficult to do certain tasks especially that require fine motor skill. Many of us might be unaware that fingers can be affected by disease such as finger felon. In the world of medicine, there is nothing impossible for the body to be affected by many possible diseases. Finger felon may seem like a new thing but it is certainly not.

A finger felon is an infection affecting the soft tissue located on the pad of the finger. This specific location is also known as fingertip pulp. In simple words, a felon is a fingertip abscess deep in the palm side of the finger. Finger felon is mostly caused by bacterial infection. Similar to many other infections, felon may begin after there is wound on the finger such as from a punctured wood splinter, bits of glass, abrasion, bites and minor cuts. Such a wound creates an entry for the bacteria to enter the finger due to the breakage of the skin integrity. Untreated paronychia may also lead to felon finger. Paronychia referred to the infection of the nail beds.

Finger felon accounts for a third of hand infections. This means that it is one of the common infections to occur. Finger felons commonly affect the first and second finger of the hand. The most common bacteria to be causing felons are Staphylococcus aureus. This is because these specific bacteria actually live on human skin, making it easy to enter the finger when there is opportunity such as from small trauma.

Symptoms of finger felon are relatively similar to many other infections which are the inflammation sign such as swollen, red finger and pain. A person with a finger felon may start to notice redness to the finger before feeling pain. The pain can increase as the infection creates pressure on the finger due to the pocket of pus (abscess) inside the fingertip. This will be made worse when there are dead cells surrounding the tissues.

If you have symptoms of a felon finger, you might think it is not a big issue and may delay getting medical treatment. Some may even think because it can heal on its own. Nevertheless, finger felon is not a disease that can go away on its own. This is because it requires appropriate treatment. To get the right treatment, one must get evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Diagnosis is usually made by doctors by evaluating the finger for signs of inflammation such as redness, swelling and presence of fluctuation suggesting pus. Due to the fact that it may be confused with herpetic willow resulting from herpes simplex virus, doctors may need to ask specific questions regarding possible history of herpes. Typically, herpetic whitlow can be differentiated with finger felon as there is presence of vesicles (small bubbles) and repeated episodes. Additional testing of such wound cultures may be performed in certain cases. Imaging tests such as ultrasound may be needed to check for abscess formation.

It is vital to get treatment for a felon finger as soon as possible, especially when it is still small. Bacteria pockets may expand further and compress the blood vessels in the fingers. This will eventually cause blood flow to the fingertips to be compromised and sooner or later may lead to permanent damage to the finger. Besides the blood circulation issues, it may also affect the bone in the finger and be a more serious infection known as osteomyelitis.

Treatment will depend on the severity of the finger felon. In mild cases, antibiotics can help to ease symptoms. However, since many finger felon only be diagnosed when it causes symptoms and abscess is already formed, incision and drainage may be needed to drain the infected finger and to improve blood flow to the finger. Most finger felon heal within days to weeks. The good news is most cases of finger felon do resolve well with medical treatment. It is rare for complications to follow.

Beside treatment from healthcare professionals, patients are advised to keep the hand elevated to reduce swelling and to keep the hand still. Soaking the felon finger in warm water should only be done when advised by doctors. Those who smoke should stop smoking as smoking can lead to further blood flow reduction to the finger. Pain relief medication should be taken when prescribed by a doctor. It is important to take antibiotics as instructed by doctors and to finish the antibiotic course.

In essence, finger felon is the bacterial infection to the fingertip pulp. It is usually caused by cuts to the finger that allows bacteria to enter the finger. Felon finger typically starts with a red bump before there is abscess formation and pain sensation. Early treatment such as antibiotics is common to eradicate the infection. Most cases need minor surgery of incision and drainage to drain the pus and ease symptoms.

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