Do you have a habit of biting your nails or tearing off your small skin? Be careful, a whitlow can appear quickly.
An infection around the edge of a nail
This usually mild skin condition occurs within a few days after a skin wound, even very slight (like a brutal manicure, a thorn or an insect bite).
The wound allows bacteria on the surface of the skin to enter the wound and infect the nail or tissues of the finger. The bacteria (staphylococcus aureus or streptococcus) causes an abscess filled with pus.
We then speak of whitlow, an infection localized on the edge of a fingernail, mainly the finger or toe. A quick treatment will avoid letting the abscess form and especially evolve.
Symptoms of whitlow
There are two types of whitlow: the superficial whitlow and the deep whitlow.
- the shallow whitlow is located around the edge of the finger or in its flesh. It is recognized by rapid inflammation, a swelling, a redness and is accompanied by a throbbing pain. It is important to take charge of it quickly, by making it “mature”.
- The deep whitlow is usually the complication of whitlow superficial (spotted late or insufficiently treated). At this stage, the infection spreads to the sheaths of the muscle tendons of the fingers and hand, causing infection of the flexor tendons. This causes difficulty in flexing the infected finger accompanied by intense inflammation. The affected area is more swollen, the skin is tight and whitish: this is the “evil white”.
To treat mild whitlow, in other words to “make it mature”, you have to immerse your finger or toe several times a day in baths of lukewarm water and coarse salt orbleach. Otherwise in antiseptic baths withtranscutaneous hexomedine or diluted dakin.
After the wound softens, the pus will come out. When the wound appears clean, it is recommended to apply 60 ° alcohol compresses, keep them for several hours and renew them frequently until the finger or toe returns to its normal appearance. If it remains painful and swollen, seek immediate medical attention.
When the whitlow is too deep, surgery is required quickly as well asantibiotic treatment. The antiseptic bath is insufficient and thesurgical intervention is necessary here. The surgeon excises the infected part, removes the pus and cleans the wound.
The whitlow must be treated quickly. If this is not the case, the infection can spread to the bone of the phalanx affected by the whitlow. The amputation of a piece of finger is then necessary in order to avoid gangrene. A complication which remains very rare.
Avoid a new whitlow
In order to avoid a new whitlow, some simple rules must be observed:
- stop biting your nails;
- stop tearing the skin off the fingers;
- if there is a small skin, cut it cleanly and neatly with a scissor;