Herpetic whitlow is a lesion that is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is a painful condition that characteristically afflicts the fingers or thumbs. Infrequently, the infection may develop on the toes or the nail cuticle. Herpetic whitlow may be caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2.
HSV-1 infection is frequently seen contracted in health care workers who are in contact with the virus; as well as in dental workers and medical workers who are exposed to oral secretions.
This viral infection, occurs when the herpes virus enters broken skin. Herpetic whitlow starts with a burning, tingling sensation in your skin followed by tiny, painful blisters. There will be redness, swelling and tenderness of infected finger. By and large, the lesions heal in 2 to 3 weeks.
In children, the main source of infection is the oro-facial area, and HSV-1 is transmitted by sucking the fingers. In adults, the chief source is the genital area, with a dominance of HSV-2.
Symptoms Of Herpetic Whitlow
Symptoms and clinical features are most commonly seen on the thumb and index finger. On the other hand, a whitlow can also occur on a toe.
- Initially, there will be a dull pain, itching, tingling, numbness in the infected area.
- After a few days the lesions / blisters are formed.
- The finger gets red, swollen and is tender. A small group of vesicles forms.
- Eruption of the vesicles is followed by scabbing.
- Healing occurs after 2 to 3 weeks.
Natural Remedies To Treat Herpetic Whitlow
- Although a self-limited disease condition, oral or IV anti-viral, particularly acyclovir are used to effectively manage immuno-compromised as well as severe infections. Surgically debriding the eruptions are known to be counter-productive.
- Do not pop a whitlow blister. This intensifies the infection, increases the risk of super infection, and adds to the chance of you transmitting the virus to others.
- Talk to your health care provider, he will prescribe simple analgesics to manage the pain.
- Apply ice packs to the lesions, several times a day; it helps reduce the swelling and pain more so, during the preliminary phase.
- Make sure you boost your vitamin C intake; vitamin C helps fight of the infection faster, it peps up the working of the immune system. Have a vitamin C supplement as well as step your intake of limes, lemons, oranges, berries, bell peppers and mangoes.
- Liberal application of over the counter acyclovir based creams to the affected finger as soon as the blister bursts helps immensely; the infection begins to clear up in 48 hours. Apply the cream and cover the lesion with a cotton finger boot for at least 2 days, then remove the boot to air the eruption and to allow a protective scab to form.
- Tea tree essential oil is an excellent home remedy for the lesions. It is a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Apply neat tea tree essential oil to the affected finger 7 to 10 times daily.