Herpetic Whitlow – Causes, Picture, Characteristics, And Treatment

If you are having painful and irritating lesion on your finger or thumb, then you are probably suffering from herpetic whitlow, a viral skin infection caused by herpes simplex virus. It is a highly painful disease which can spread through direct contact with the person with active virus symptoms. Not only this, herpetic whitlow also affects a person mentally and emotionally and can hinder in his/her sex life.

This skin ailment rarely affects adults, irrespective of their gender, but is commonly found in children which finger sucking habit. Also a health care person who comes in contact with herpes patients (genital herpes etc.) is vulnerable to catch the infection. Statistically, one in every 10,000 adult is found to have herpetic whitlow but one in every 100 children suffer from the same. It usually targets fingers and thumbs of people but can spread to other parts of the body coming in constant touch with the infected area. This disease is very discomforting and painful and can vitiate daily activities of a person. Fortunately, it is curable. There are several potential remedies and treatments available which can not only relief from pain and swelling but can eradicate the virus completely.

Herpetic Whitlow

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Herpetic Whitlow Causes

Herpetic Whitlow is triggered by HSV, herpes simplex virus, which is of two types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. Where HSV-1 infection is generally found around lips, nose, face and mouth, HSV-2 infection occurs in genital areas and buttocks and is sexually transmitted. Around 60 percent of herpetic whitlow cases are found to be caused by the former and rest 40 percent is contributed by the latter. In children, this disease occurs due to sucking of infected finger or thumb. Even if you come in physical contact with the infected person and touch or use any of his things, your chances of getting the virus increase. Cold sores and genital sores are also some of the triggers of herpetic whitlow.

Herpetic Whitlow Symptoms

Painful inflammation on one or more finger or thumb, redness, itching, burning or tingling sensation and lesions are some of the common symptoms of herpetic whitlow. The affected region becomes tender and pains a lot. In few cases a patient can suffer from fever and swelling in lymph nodes under the armpits, but this rarely happens. The symptoms do not start with the exposure with HSV but remain dormant in the skin for weeks. Once the virus gets favorable conditions, symptoms start to show up which usually last for a month or two. The blisters crust over slowly and you witness improvement in your condition. In case of recurrence of this disease, people face symptoms which are less severe and don’t last for long period.

There are certain complications linked with this disease, which include pneumonia, herpes encephalitis, high sensation of pain and scarring of affected digit. There is always a risk of spreading with HSV which can increase the complications and number of cases. Its diagnosis is easy and no significant mortality is associated with it.

Herpetic Whitlow Characteristics

Herpetic whitlow is a skin disease characterized by blisters, red spots, rashes and inflammation. Since it is cause by a virus, it is contagious and can travel from one person to other or from one part of the body to other. It has the ability to self-limit the virus which strongly depends over the strength of one’s immune system. It also exhibits episodes of recurrence, though the severity decreases. Just like for any other viral disease or infection, body begins to produce antibodies for fighting the HSV virus on its own and proper medication helps in fastening the process.

Herpetic Whitlow Treatment

The objective of any herpetic whitlow treatment is to stop the spreading of infection to other body parts and eradicate the virus from its roots. Although this skin disease is self-limiting and usually clears up on its own but it takes a long period of time and is very painful and discomforting. Thus it becomes necessary to consult your doctor and ask for an adequate remedy for your herpetic whitlow. Treats for the same include:

  • Antiviral Medication including Acyclovir, Zovirax etc. These are very helpful in limiting the spread of the Herpes Simplex virus by killing it completely and thus putting an end to pain and discomfort. Such medications directly target the DNA of the HSV and thus can effectively banish it and its effects.
  • Antibiotics are helpful in case the blisters begin to scrape. They help in avoiding further complications of this infection.
  • Application of Dynamiclear or Propyderm NF cream helps in clearing the infection is two weeks or so, giving relief from this condition.
  • Oral medications like oral sprays and oral creams reduce the symptoms of HSV and boost the healing process.
  • Pressing swollen lesions with Ice Packs reduces inflammation initially and eliminates symptoms of pain. This is one of the home remedies which can use effectively used for the treatment of herpetic whitlow.
  • Proper diet rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and water builds up a strong immune system and thus speeds up the recovery process.

As per a common saying “prevention is better than cure”, so it is better to abbreviate the chances of getting herpetic whitlow rather than suffering and then looking for the potential treatment. Since it is a contagious disease, you should avoid exposure to any person with active HSV virus and its symptoms and wear gloves when in contact with a regular healthcare person whose job is to assist people with open infected sores. Children having cold sores must be kept clean and after you have applied medication over them, wash your hands thoroughly. Also be loyal to your partner and avoid unknown sex to dwindle down the risks of getting the infection through genital herpes. Only when you develop clean and healthy habits of living, you can avoid spreading of HSV virus to other parts of the body and save yourself from getting this condition from other infected people.

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