Hand Infections

The anatomy of the hand is complex, and a seemingly minor injury can cause disproportionate amount of harm.

What is it?

Hands and the structures within are especially prone to infections (bacterial, viral or fungal).

Causes

  • Atypical mycobacterial infections e.g. from contaminated water
  • Infections in the skin or deeper may come from bacteria (e.g. MRSA) contaminated water, bite wounds, cellulitis, splinters, viruses (such as Herpes)
  • Some infections can affect the nerves (e.g. Herpes)
  • Necrotising fasciitis is a rare but severe infection where bacteria can destroy the skin, muscles and other tissue after entering the body through a cut
  • Paronychia can cause an infection of the area around the fingernail
  • Septic arthritis/osteomyelitis can occur when a wound in or near a joint can cause severe infection within the joint itself.
  • Tendons can become infected (infectious tenosynovitis) when a small cut or puncture wound in the palm side of the finger cuts the sheath of the tendons

Symptoms

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Heat
  • What to do?

    Hand infections can cause severe problems that persist well after the infection has resolved.

  • Early aggressive treatment with antibiotics, antiviral or antifungal meds, local rest and soaking is essential.
  • Some infections require surgical drainage and removal of infected or necrotic tissue.
  • Following surgery, splinting and elevation to rest the damaged tissues until the infection has resolved
  • Further hand therapy may be required to regain movement, desensitize and manage scarring
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