Herpetic whitlow is a painful infection of one or more fingers.
Herpes simplex viruses, which also cause cold sores, are usually the cause of herpetic whitlow. Most often the virus starts in a child’s mouth and then spreads to the fingers through a break in the skin. For example, your child’s finger might get infected when he sucks his thumb or other finger.
Symptoms may include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Your child may also have blood tests or a swab of the fluid from the sore to see what is causing the infection.
The infection usually gets better without treatment.
Your child’s healthcare provider may prescribe antiviral medicine. One form of the medicine is put on the skin. Your child may also need to take antiviral medicine by mouth to keep the blisters from coming back.
The infection should get better in 2 to 4 weeks. However, the virus stays in the body and so the infection could come back. Usually repeat infections are milder and heal more quickly.
Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your child’s healthcare provider.
You can give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for both fever and pain.
The fluid in the blisters can spread the infection if it touches other parts of your child's body or other people. Cover the blisters with a bandage. You can also cover the bandage with clothing (such as gloves or socks) to keep the virus from spreading.
Ask your child’s provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup.
The virus is usually spread from other parts of the body. The best way to prevent the infection is to keep your child from biting his nails or putting his fingers in his mouth, especially when your child has a cold sore.