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Swollen Fingertips: What Can Cause Swelling at the Tip of the Fingers

What Is Swollen Fingertips?

Usually the fingertips swell due to fluid buildup or some kind of inflammation in the tissues or joints of the finger. Swelling at the tip of the finger can be caused as a result of some potentially serious infection, inflammation, or direct trauma to the finger.

Swollen Fingertips

In general, Swollen Fingertips(1) are caused by fluid retention like pregnancy or premenstrual syndrome. If the swelling is just in a solitary fingertip then the cause may be a direct trauma to the finger, some kind of infection or inflammatory process like arthritis. Since Swollen Fingertips can also indicate a potentially serious medical condition or infection, it is imperative that if an individual observes persistent swelling at the tip of the finger which does not go away then he or she should consult a physician to rule out any other infectious process. Also, the individual should seek medical attention if the individual observes warmth and erythema along with the swelling in the fingertip.

What Can Cause Swelling At The Tip Of The Fingers?

Usually, Swollen Fingertips or swelling at the tip of the fingers is caused due to pregnancy or a medical condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome which is caused due to overuse of fingers like being involved in an occupation which deals with a lot of typing. Inadequate blood flow to the finger may also lead to swelling of the fingertips. Another cause of swelling of the fingertips may be inflammatory process like arthritis. Swollen Fingertips is not a medical condition, but is rather a symptom of an underlying medical condition which needs to be addressed. If an individual has a confirmed diagnosis of arthritis then fingertips swelling may be a common phenomenon.

An autoimmune disorder may also lead to Swollen Fingertips. Disease like systemic lupus erythematosus(2) has clinical features of swelling of the joints and fingers. Another autoimmune disease that can cause Swollen Fingertips is Scleroderma.

The other potential cause for Swollen Fingertips may be fluid retention. There may be fluid retention in the fingers due to numerous causes to include pregnancy and menstrual periods in females.

Raynaud’s phenomenon(3) is also a medical condition that can result in Swollen Fingertips.

Any infection to the finger due to insect bites or any other cause can also lead to Swollen Fingertips. This is usually caused by bacterial infection. It can be accompanied by drainage, reddish discoloration and pain. An infection to the nail or nail bed can also lead to Swollen Fingertips.

It has also been noted that repetitive stress to the fingers like while working strenuously with the fingers may also cause fingertips to swell. Some people who may have Swollen Fingertips due to this condition are typists, data entry operators, people working in the court as clerks, or sportsmen

Any type of direct trauma to the fingers or at the tip of the fingers may also cause Swollen Fingertips. A distinct trauma may cause fracture of the finger which may cause swelling. Sprains and strains are also common causes of swelling at the tip of the finger.

What Are The Symptoms Associated With Swollen Fingertips?

As stated, Swollen Fingertips is not a medical condition but is a symptom of an underlying infection or a medical condition. Thus if an individual has Swollen Fingertips then he or she needs to be checked for other illnesses causing the swelling. The symptoms may vary depending on the disease process. Some of the symptoms which may indicate an underlying infection are:

  • Bruising and discoloration
  • Chills
  • Severe fatigue
  • Fever
  • Lumps in the fingertip
  • Numbness or tingling due to nerve compression
  • Tenderness in the fingertips
  • Lacerations
  • Decreased ability to move the joints
  • Joint stiffness
  • Swelling of the joints.

Some of the symptoms, which may indicate a potentially serious condition and require immediate medical attention are:

  • High grade fever
  • Inability to move finger
  • Excruciating pain
  • Visual impairment.

What Are The Treatments For Swollen Fingertips?

The treatment for Swollen Fingertips depends on the underlying cause of it. In case if Swollen Fingertips is caused due to a direct trauma then rest, ice, elevation, and compression of the finger is enough to calm down the swelling and inflammation. This is done by first not using the injured finger, then applying ice 20 minutes two to three times a day, covering the injured finger with a bandage, and then keeping the finger in an upright position till the swelling gets better. If this treatment does not work effectively then the individual needs to consult a physician for definitive treatment.

If an individual has Swollen Fingertips due to some sort of cut or bruise to the finger then the best way to treat is to clean and wash the laceration, applying a small amount of antibiotic Neosporin and then apply a bandage to the injured area.

In case if an individual has Swollen Fingertips due to some infection or other underlying condition then treatment protocol addressing that particular condition needs to be followed.

What Are Some Of The Complications Of Swollen Fingertips?

In some cases if Swollen Fingertips are not treated appropriately then it can lead to complications. These complications depend on the underlying cause of the swelling. As Swollen Fingertips may be indicative of a serious underlying condition failing to treat the cause may lead to complication inherent to that particular condition. It is imperative for an individual with Swollen Fingertips without any history of an injury or trauma visit the treating physician to identify the cause of the swelling and get that treated at the soonest possible time to prevent complications. Once a cause is identified then following the treatment protocol diligently is imperative for faster healing. Some of the complications that one may arise includes:

  • Chronic inability to use the fingers
  • Finger amputation(4)
  • Deformity of the finger
  • Inability to perform ADLs
  • Danger of the infection spreading
  • Requirement of surgery to repair the damage.

What Are Some Natural Ways To Cope With Swollen Fingertips?

Swollen Fingertips or swelling at the tip of the fingers most of the time can be treated at home using items that are used in an everyday basis at home. Some home remedies suggested for treating swelling of the fingertips or fingers:

  • Turmeric Powder: Turmeric powder acts both as an antiseptic as well as an antiinflammatory and is a good choice for wound healing. To use it, some turmeric powder is taken and mixed in water to form a paste. This paste is then applied over the wound and a bandage is applied.
  • One more option is a combination of turmeric powder, carom seeds, and some chopped garlic. These three can be heated in some mustard oil and applied to the swollen area. This will bring down the swelling and inflammation considerably.
  • Epsom Salt: Take some Epsom salt and boil it in water. Then dip the injured finger in this solution. This will also help in the swelling to go down considerably and also help with the inflammation.
  • Tea Tree Oil: This oil can also be used to calm down the swelling and inflammation of the finger as it has antibacterial and antifungal properties.


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 29, 2020

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