An Overview

An infection inside the tip of the finger can form an enclosed pocket of pus (or abscess) that is very painful as it expands. A felon is a fingertip abscess deep in the palm side of the finger. It usually is caused by bacterial infection, most often from growth of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. A painful bump on the end of a finger that is sometimes mistaken for a felon is a herpes virus infection that forms a herpetic whitlow. These sores or blisters are mostly painful and develop after direct contact with an infected sore. The herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes this infection. There are two types of HSV. Herpetic whitlow is caused by the same virus which is responsible for cold sores and genital herpes, it is highly contagious.

It is important to get treatment quickly for felons when they are small. If the bacteria pocket continues to expand, it can compress blood vessels in the finger and cut off the fingertip’s circulation, causing in permanent damage to the finger. Also, an untreated felon can spread its infection to the bone within the finger. This can lead to a more serious infection, called osteomyelitis, which takes much longer to cure.

Causes of felon infection

A felon finger is most often the result of a bacterial infection that invades the finger after a penetrating trauma, such as a cut, scrape, splinter, or puncture wound, which usually occurs from something sharp and pointed creating a small opening in the skin. When there is a break in the skin of the fingertip, bacteria have the opportunity to grow and multiply there. The most common bacteria that causes felon finger is Staphylococcus aureus. In addition, felon finger may also be caused by the Streptococcus bacterial species. In other cases, untreated paronychia can also lead to felon finger. Paronychia is an infection around the nail beds that often occurs from nail trauma caused by nail biting, manicures, or artificial nails.

• Injury
• Infections like bacteria (staphylococcus aureus), viruses, parasites and fungi.
• The most common organism behind the infection is staphylococcus aureus.
• In immune suppressed patients gram-negative organisms are the cause.
• The major mode of infection is fingertip blood glucose measurements.

Signs and symptoms of felon

The primary signs and symptoms of felon finger are a swollen, red finger pad with intense, throbbing pain that is tender to the touch. Initially, an individual with felon finger may only present with redness on their finger, which is later accompanied by progressively increasing pain. In later stages of an infection, a moveable abscess, or a pus-filled lump, may appear.
Pain, redness and tender swelling of the affected part with an accumulation of white, thick discharge (pus).
The major characteristic features of felon are as follows
• Throbbing pain
•The tension in the infected finger.
• Edema of the finger pulp.


Our doctor can usually diagnose a felon just by examining it. He or she will ask whether you have had an injury in the area. Tenderness, redness, firmness and enlargement of the fingertip are all signs of a felon.If you have small bubble-like cysts on the skin, called vesicles, and repeated episodes, it is likely the cause is herpetic whitlow.
During clinical examination, the provider may assess the location of the redness, swelling, and pain in the finger. They may also check for abscess formation.
In some cases, additional testing, such as wound cultures or imaging may be performed. A culture may be taken to test for the specific type of bacterial infection in order to determine the best course of antibiotic treatment. Ultrasound imaging may also be performed to identify the presence of an abscess.


If identified early, a felon finger will typically be treated with antibiotics. In general, the course of antibiotics will run 7–10 days and will usually treat both staphylococcal and streptococcal infections. Some possible antibiotics include trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, cephalexin, amoxicillin/clavulanate, or clindamycin. If the cause of the felon finger was trauma from a foreign body, the foreign body will need to be fully removed and a tetanus shot may be given as a preventive measure.
• Drainage of pus
• Antibiotics
If a felon is not treated promptly, the underlying bone, joint, or tendons may become infected. Treatment of felon is prompt drainage of the pus. Doctors drain the pus through a surgical incision. Antibiotics are taken by mouth
• Use of the homeopathic medicines in the very beginning of a felon infection can prevent the complications associated with it. Remedies likeSilicea, Myristica Sebifera, Hepar Sulph, Apis mellifica, Fluoric Acid and Tarentula Cubensisare anti-suppurative remedies that treat the felon and cause no side effects.

Treat a felon finger at home

In some cases, if recognized early, a felon finger can be treated at home. A conservative approach is to treat the felon finger by soaking it in warm water and elevating it for about 10–15 minutes, three or four times a day. Elevation by resting the finger above the level of the heart can also prove beneficial. In addition, a provider may prescribe antibiotics to be taken at home.

What kind of infection is a felon’s finger?

• A felon is an infection of the distal pulp of the finger. Treatment often involves surgical drainage and empiric oral antibiotics. Herpetic whitlow is caused by herpes simplex virus and typically resolves without intervention.
What does a finger felon look like?
Felon finger often presents with a red bump inside the tip of the finger. If an abscess has formed, the bump may be filled with pus and may appear slightly white or yellow. Oftentimes, a felon finger may be confused with a herpetic whitlow, which results from the herpes simplex virus and may also present with a small bump on the tip of the finger. However, with herpetic whitlow there is generally a multi-bubble-like appearance. In contrast, felon finger will generally have only one central area of infection.

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