Herpetic Whitlow


Herpetic whitlow occurs from the herpes simplex virus. It is a self-limited disease, and it often involves the tip of the fingers. It occurs due to contact with oral or tracheal secretions and from self-inoculation. Herpetic whitlow is seen in dentists, respiratory therapists, anesthesiologists, and toddlers (children who suck their thumb). The symptoms of herpetic whitlow include, burning, inflammation, and a clear fluid (not purulent). Vesicles on the finger which can be grouped together with inflammation and redness at the base. The gram stain will usually be negative. Diagnosis can be done with the Tzanck test. Giant cells can be seen. Treatment is acyclovir, no surgery. Surgery can make the situation worse.

Nabil Ebraheim, MD

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