Hand infections almost always warrant medical attention. Deep infections of the hand can spread rapidly through the fluid that lubricates the tendons and joints of the hand, especially in diabetic and immunocompromised patients. Superficial infections of the skin don’t have far to go to spread to these vital structures. Always seek medical attention for hand infections.
What causes hand infections?
Infections are typically caused by bacteria that enter through cuts, abrasions, or punctures in the skin.
How do I know if there is an infection in my hand?
The typical signs of infection include redness, warmth, pain, swelling, and pus. Severe infections might also cause fever or chills. If any of these signs are present, seed immediate medical attention.
Common Infections of the Hand
Cellulitis: This is superficial infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissue which often responds to antibiotics, but occasionally requires IV antibiotics in the hospital.
Abscess: This is the term for deep infections under the skin which cause a collection of pus, and often need drained to resolve.
Paronychia: This infection occurs around the nail folds causing pain, swelling, redness, and sometimes pus. Nail-biters are at higher risk for paronychia.
Felon: This is an infection of the pulp of the fingertip, which becomes painful, swollen, and tight, are requires urgent drainage to prevent cutting off circulation to the fingertip.
Flexor Tenosynovitis: This is an infection of the fluid around the flexor tendon of the finger, usually due to an animal bite or puncture wound of the finger. The finger becomes very painful and swollen, and tendon rupture can occur without urgent medical treatment.
Bite Wounds: Bacteria that live in the mouth of both humans and animals can cause severe hand infections. Cat bites are especially prone to cause infection because their sharp teeth penetrate deep making the wounds difficult to adequately clean.
Surgical Site Infections: Surgical incisions can become infected, especially if not properly cared for. There is normally mild redness and clear drainage from an incision, but notify your surgeon immediately if you notice worsening redness, increasing pain, or pus draining from an incision.
Ready to confirm a diagnosis and fix the problem?
Our Board-Certified Orthopaedic Hand and Wrist Surgeons are here to help! They can often diagnose the problem in one visit, and get you started with a treatment plan ranging from simple splinting and hand therapy to injections or surgical options when needed.
*The content on this website is not a substitute for expert medical advice or diagnosis, and is for educational purposes only.