Page created on October 26, 2021. Not updated since.
- Septic conditions of the hand are almost always associated with trauma. Treatment involves source control and antibiotics.
- Paronychia is an infection of the soft tissue around the nail. Treatment is antibiotics, as well as drainage in case of abscess.
- Felon is an abscess in the finger pulp. Treatment is incision and drainage.
- Purulent tenosynovitis is an infection of the flexor tendon sheath. It’s an orthopaedic emergency which requires incision, drainage, and IV antibiotics.
- Herpetic whitlow is an HSV-1 infection of the hand causing burning, erythema, and vesicular rash. Treatment is acyclovir.
- Bite injuries are contaminated wounds and often require antibiotics, debridement, and tetanus prophylaxis.
- Necrotising fasciitis is another surgical emergency requiring antibiotics, debridement, oxygen therapy, and possibly amputation.
Septic conditions of the hand
Septic (infective) conditions of the hand are rare but severe conditions. There’s always a form of trauma in the background, as well as some predisposing factors like malnutrition, immunodeficiency, diabetes, alcoholism, etc.
Treatment depends on the specific condition but often involves source control like incision and drainage, as well as antibiotics.
Paronychia is an infection of the soft tissue around the nail. The bacterium is often S. aureus. There is usually a trauma of the soft tissue, due to nail biting or puncture.
Symptoms include local pain, swelling, and erythema. Treatment involves antibiotics, as well as drainage if there’s an abscess.
Felon is an abscess of the finger pulp caused by infection by S. aureus or gram negatives following local trauma. Treatment is incision and drainage. It may lead to purulent tenosynovitis.
Purulent tenosynovitis is a bacterial infection of the flexor tendon sheath. Symptoms include pain, tenderness, erythema, swelling, and pain with passive extension. It’s a serious condition and an orthopaedic emergency which requires incision and drainage as well as IV antibiotics.
Horseshoe abscess is an abscess of the palmar space. It may occur due to spread from purulent tenosynovitis.
Herpetic whitlow is a viral infection of the hand caused by HSV-1. Symptoms include burning, erythema, and vesicular rash. Treatment is acyclovir.
Animal bites, including human bites, are often polymicrobial contaminated wounds. Antibiotics against both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria are used, and debridement may be necessary. Keep tetanus prophylaxis in mind.
Necrotising fasciitis of the hand is also a severe condition and an orthopaedic emergency, and it may be life threatening. It may be polymicrobial or monomicrobial caused by clostridium perfringens, staphylococci, or streptococci. The patients will have both local and systemic symptoms of infection, as well as blackish discoloration and bullae. Treatment is antibiotics, debridement, hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy, and possibly amputation.