Herpes infection may appear on any part of the body. It is a viral disease, which can be caused either by type 1 or type 2 herpes simplex virus. The infection is categorized according to the area of infection. The most commonly seen are herpes zoster, oral herpes (also known as cold sores, fever blisters), genital herpes, herpetic whitlow (commonly called herpes on hands), etc. It is also known as digital herpes simplex, finger herpes, etc. The infection goes through a cycle of active and remission phases. The active phase can last for anywhere between 2 to 21 days. In the remission phase, the sores go away completely. Normally, a person may be infected with it only once in their lifetime. However, in some rare cases, there can be recurrence of the disease. This infection normally occurs on the fingers or the fingernail area. The name of the virus causing this condition is herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is extremely contagious condition and spreads easily.
Causes of Herpetic Whitlow
The main cause is due to the presence of chickenpox virus in the body. After a person contracts chickenpox, the virus may remain in the body in a dormant condition. When the virus becomes active, it gives rise to herpes infection. Other than this, it can be caused due to other reasons as well. The most common cause is spread of the infection is through touch, as it is very contagious. Infection present on one part of the body can spread to other parts of the body. Health care professionals are often at risk of contracting the infection from the patients. Children are also susceptible to this infection.
Herpetic Whitlow Symptoms
Herpes infection on the hands is most likely to be caused on the thumbs or the index fingers. The condition arises anywhere after 2 to 20 days after being exposed to the virus. The first symptom of herpes often is burning and/or tingling sensation along with pain. Subsequently the affected area becomes red and there is a swelling on the finger. In the next stage, clustered blisters are seen on the affected finger. These blisters have a bright red base to them. Along with the blisters, there are other symptoms of this condition as well. Fever often accompanies the herpes infection. In some cases, the lymph nodes present in the elbow or in the underarm area may be swollen. The chances of recurrence of the infection is rare. But in some cases, certain triggers like sun exposure, hormonal changes, trauma, stress, etc., can cause the disease to recur.
Treatment for Herpetic Whitlow
It is extremely important to take care of the condition and not let it spread to other parts of the body. Antiviral medications can be applied topically. There are different topical medications, which you can make use of. It is better to consult your health care professional to know about the one suitable for you. Likewise, there are also antiviral medications which can be taken orally. These medicines are said to prevent the recurrence of the condition.
A paste of baking soda and water can be applied to the finger or hand. After touching the infection, it is a MUST to wash hands with warm water and soap. Keep the affected area as dry as you can to facilitate recovery. One natural cure for herpes is the use of cold tea bags. Using these arrests viral activity and number of outbreaks reduces drastically.
If someone in your family is affected with this condition, care should be taken to stop the infection from spreading. It is best to wash the clothes of the infected person separately, along with the bed linen. It is best not to come in contact with the person physically. Contact your physician at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.