Whitlow / Herpetic Whitlow / Felon

Another name for whitlow is herpetic whitlow or felon. The painful infection of fingers is called whiltlow. The infection is a result of herpes simplex virus 1(HSV1) and herpes simplex virus 2(HSV2).

One or more fingers of a hand are involved in herpetic whitlow. The infection causes intense pain.

Through a break in the skin virus enters the body and invades the cells of the dermis and subcutaneous tissue.

Incubation period after initial exposure is 2-20 days. Initial symptoms of infection are pain, burning and tingling at the in fected site. These aymptoms are followed by edema, erythma and formationo fvesicles of 1-3 mm size in 7-10 days.

Vesicles contains clear fluid that may appear cloudy or bloody. Ulceration and rupture of the vesicles occurs. Development of lymphangitis, epitrochlear and axillary lymphadenopathy is common. There  is significant improvement of symptoms in 10-14 days with formation of crusts over lesions and healing occurs.

Primary infection by herpes simplex virus is followed by latent period and then the symptoms reccurs. After infecting the host the virus enters the cutaneous nerve endings and from there virus migrates to pripheral ganglia and Schwann cells. The virus lies dormant in peripheral ganglia and Schwann cells.

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