Whitlow is an infection of the fingertip caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), a virus that affects about 90 percent of people worldwide. The first bout of whitlow is usually the most troublesome, with recurrences usually being lesser in pain and length. Since about 20 to 50percent of cases are recurrences, prevention is key.
If whitlow is diagnosed within 48 hours after the symptoms start, the doctor can prescribe antiviral medication to you. The medicine might be topical (a cream) or oral (pills), and it will lessen the severity of the infection and promote quicker healing. Thus, it’s crucial that you seek immediate medical advice.
Take precautions to prevent spreading the infection. Since the virus can spread through contact, your are advised not to touch others, or even to avoid touching yourself with the infected finger. In particular, avoid touching body parts that contain fluids or bodily secretions. These include the eyes, mouth, tongue, genitals, ears, and breast.
Wrap the infected area with a bandage, cloth, or any form of dry wrap with medical tape.
Dealing with Whitlow with Home Remedies
Do not pick at vesicles
You may be tempted to pick at or try to burst the vesicles, just as people can’t resist the urge to pop pimples. However, this makes the wound open to bacterial infection. Furthermore, the released fluid carries the virus, and can spread the viral infection further.
Soak the infected area.
Warm water can provide pain relief from whitlow. This is best used when painful lesions start appearing on the infected area. You can add salt or epsom salt to the water to help with relief. The concentrated salt will diminish swelling in the effected area.
Add soap to the water for open blisters
If you’ve tried to burst or drain a vesicle, you can add regular or antibacterial soap to the warm water when you soak the area.
Apply magnesium sulphate paste
Magnesium sulphate paste can help with the pain and swelling associated with whitlow.
Use an ice pack
The extreme cold will numb the nerves in the surrounding area, relieving the pain. It will also slow blood flow to the area; reducing any inflammation or swelling that would contribute to the pain.
Reduce your stress levels. This can be challenging, but making an effort can help prevent future outbreaks. HSV can lie dormant in nerve cells for quite some time, but stress can activate it.