Finger and Hand Infections

Exemplary Care for Finger and Hand Infections

Our experienced physicians understand that even a small injury can lead to a serious infection if not treated properly and in a timely manner. That’s why at EmergeOrtho, we provide superior quality service for patients across North Carolina. Let our expertise and compassionate care guide you so you can emerge healthier.

How can I tell if my finger or hand is infected?

If you believe your finger or hand is infected, it’s vital to receive medical help as soon as the first signs of infection occur. If you do not, it can create severe medical problems that remain even after the wound has been treated. These problems can include loss of nerve tissue and bone.

If the infection is not treated and spreads, it could develop into a life-threatening situation.

Signs of an infected finger or hand depend upon the cause of the infection. In general, symptoms may include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Pus drainage
  • Fever (in some cases)

What causes a finger or hand infection?

There are dozens of situations that can result in infections. A few of them include:

  • Deep puncture wounds, such as a cat bite: While any animal bite can cause infection or injury, cats’ fangs are able to penetrate deeply into the joints and tissue, establishing the perfect breeding ground for infection. If you have been bitten by an animal — regardless of whether it is feral or domesticated, you should be checked for rabies.
  • A break in the skin can cause cellulitis. This infection can quickly spread to the bloodstream. It’s vital to get antibiotic treatment as soon as possible. Some may even need hospitalization to fight the disease.
  • Other puncture wounds, regardless of size, can cause infections. Deep space infections occur when one of the compartments within the hand is infected and an abscess forms. You often see them in the space between the fingers or the muscle at the base of the thumb and palm.
  • Gardening or activities that involve sharp objects near the fingertip can cause the pulp of the fingertip to become infected, forming something called a felon. This causes painful throbbing and may need to be drained. In more serious cases, soft tissue and bone may be destroyed.
  • The herpes virus can infect the hand, causing small, painful and, blood-tinged blisters. This condition usually resolves in a few weeks with basic treatment.

What are the different types of finger and hand infections?

You may have heard MRSA called the “superbug.” MRSA stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. You can contract this bacterial infection from large, community places like hospitals, gyms, dorms and even daycares. MRSA must be treated as soon as possible to prevent it from transforming into a more serious infection.

Fungal infections are more common in those whose hands are frequently wet — like dishwashers. This bacterial infection affects the area around the fingernail. Signs include red, swollen and tender cuticles. While this can be treated with medication, surgery may be needed to completely drain the pus.

Septic arthritis is caused when a wound near a joint becomes infected, usually from a penetrating injury such as a bite, small needle or injection. Urgent surgical attention is needed because the joint cartilage can be destroyed in just a few days. If not caught early, septic arthritis may require weeks of antibiotic treatment and several surgeries.

Puncture wounds in a finger can infect the flexor tendons around the wrist that enable you to bend your fingers. This is called a tendon sheath infection. As a result, the fingers and hand are stiff, swollen, red and tender. This infection often requires treatment with IV antibiotics.

How is an infected hand or finger treated?

While some infections can be managed with antibiotics, others may require surgery or even extensive hospitalization. If you believe you may have an infection, please contact our office for an appointment as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the greater your risk of serious medical complications.

All of our physicians have broad, extensive clinical experience and training that is vital for a timely, efficient and accurate diagnosis of orthopedic issues and problems. From utilizing the latest technology to compassionate care for every patient, EmergeOrtho proves that it is a statewide leader in excellent care.