Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Herpetic Whitlow Overview

What is herpetic whitlow?
A person with herpetic whitlow has an infection of the fingertip, caused by a virus. Herpetic whitlow results in intense pain and blisters on the fingertip. Symptoms of herpetic whitlow usually resolve within 2 weeks. In children, the infection is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1, which causes herpes gingivostomatitis. In adults, the infection is caused by herpes simplex virus type 2, which causes genital herpes.

What are the symptoms of herpetic whitlow?
Symptoms of herpetic whitlow include finger pain and swelling that is usually located at the fingertip. The fingertip may become red and tender. Usually, a blister forms, which can turn into an ulcer. An additional symptom of herpetic whitlow includes swollen lymph nodes under the arm.

How does the doctor treat herpetic whitlow?
Treatment for herpetic whitlow includes antiviral medications, narcotic pain medications, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain.

Continue to Herpetic Whitlow Symptoms

Last Updated: Aug 2, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Herpetic Whitlow References
  1. Clark DC. Common acute hand infections. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Dec 1;68(11):2167-76. [14677662]
  2. Ney AC, English JC 3rd, Greer KE. Coexistent infections on a child's distal phalanx: blistering dactylitis and herpetic whitlow. Cutis. 2002 Jan;69(1):46-8. [11829178]
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