Cellulitis is a condition in which the superficial layer of skin and underlying tissue gets infected. The same cellulitis(1) when affecting the soft pad of fingertip is termed as felon. Generally, a felon does not affect deeper structures of the finger and hand, but infects fingertip pad and soft tissues connected with it which often occurs due to a punctured wound. The fingertip is supported with walls of connective tissue, which steady the pad. There is entrapment of pus in these compartments with infection provoking extreme discomfort and throbbing pain. There is swelling, heat, and redness. Pus accumulation may also be visible.
Causes of Cellulitis Infection – Finger Felon
- Finger felon may occur due to an injury caused to the fingertip by a splinter, piece of glass, etc.
- Finger felon may also be caused by a small puncture wound.
- Catching a finger in a jersey or any other piece of sports equipment is also a mechanism of sports injury leading to finger felon.
- Blood tests performed by finger sticks could also be a risk factor for causing a finger felon.
- Break in the skin may often lead to the finger felon.
- Streptococcus and Staphylococcus bacteria are the most frequent causes of finger felon.
- Stings, insect or animal bites, or for that matter even human bites.
- Wound from a recent surgery.
Signs and Symptoms of Cellulitis Infection – Finger Felon
- Throbbing pain is experienced at the end an infected finger.
- Thumb or index finger most frequently gets affected with the felon.
- Appearance of redness.
- Development of swelling.
- Pain and tenderness in the affected region could be experienced.
- The more the infection spreads the redness in the skin also develops which often becomes warm.
- Fatigue could also be a result of this condition.
- Pains and muscle aches could also be experienced.
- Glossy, stretched and tight appearance of skin in the infected area.
- General ill feeling.
- Skin may also become warm in the affected red area.
- Shaking or chills.
- Abnormal sweating.
- Swollen glands(2) and fever may also be caused by finger felon.
Treatment for Cellulitis Infection – Finger Felon
- The most common treatment for finger felon involves use of antibiotics to clear up the infection. This is the only treatment required in most of the cases as generally the infection clears up by the end of its course.
- I and D (Incision and Drainage)(3) may be required in some cases due to the infection being entrapped due to pressure within numerous compartments of fingertip. This involves making an incision on the fingertip or inserting an instrument into the wound to break the compartments and allow the drainage of pus or infected fluid. This is followed by flushing with copious amount of sterile fluid.
Investigations for Cellulitis Infection – Finger Felon
Generally, a puncture wound or cut is the basis of diagnosis. This could involve injury from a plant thorn or a piece of glass or splinter. X-rays may be obtained to check for damage to any other structures like the bone or to detect any underlying foreign body.
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