Hand Infections


Hand infections range from minor issues treatable with antibiotics, to severe conditions needing hand surgery to preserve as much hand function as possible. Early treatment of any hand infection is important to ensure the best possible outcome. Sometimes waiting 1 to 2 days before consulting a physician can make a big difference in the extent of treatment needed as well as the treatment’s success.

Infections can affect various components of the hand, including the skin, nail, tendons, tendon sheaths, or the spaces within the hand. Some common hand infections include:

  • Paronychia: an infection of the cuticle surrounding the fingernail. Symptoms include pain, swelling, redness and sometimes pus. Acute paronychia are caused by bacteria while chronic paronychia are often caused by fungus. If caught early, it can be treated with soaks, medication and avoiding excessive exposure to moisture. In some instances, surgery may be needed to drain infected tissue.
  • Felon: affecting the fatty tissue of the fingertips, this infection causes a throbbing pain and is often treated with a combination of surgical drainage and antibiotics. If left untreated, this infection can destroy soft tissue as well as bone in some cases.
  • Herpetic Whitlow: a viral infection which causes painful blisters and swelling to occur. It is common among medical and dental workers whose hands often come into contact with saliva of patients with herpes. This condition often goes away on its own. Medication to relieve symptoms as well as to prevent spreading can be prescribed.
  • Septic Arthritis: a severe joint infection, often caused by joint injury. This condition can erode the cartilage within the joint within a matter of a few days. The infection can also cause osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone. For treatment, surgical drainage is needed as well as antibiotics.
  • Deep Space Infections: affecting the spaces within the hands, such as the thumb area, the palm or the webbing between the fingers. This type of infection is often caused by puncture wounds or lacerations. If left untreated it can spread to other areas of the hand or arm. Treatment entails surgical drainage.
  • Tendon Sheath Infection: often caused by a puncture wound or laceration near the joint on the palm-side of the hand, these infections can cause severe stiffness of the flexor tendon as well as rupture. Treatment includes immediate surgical drainage of the tendon sheath combined with antibiotics.
  • Bite Wounds: bite wounds from either humans or animals can cause severe bacterial infection. Drainage as well as surgical debridement of infected tissue are often required.

Dr. Fiore specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of Hand, Wrist, and Elbow Infections. He is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and fellowship trained in hand surgery. For more information on treatment options, or to schedule a consultation, call Fiore Hand and Wrist at (281) 970-8002.

We are conveniently located within driving distance of Cypress TX, Katy TX, Spring TX, Tomball TX, The Woodlands TX, and Houston TX.

For more information please visit Handcare.org.