How is whitlow treated?
In many cases, a whitlow infection will heal without treatment after two to three weeks. Although there is no treatment that will eliminate herpes simplex virus from your body, your health care provider may suggest medications to improve the symptoms of whitlow.
Treatments to manage symptoms
To manage or reduce the symptoms of whitlow, your heath care provider may recommend or prescribe:
- Analgesics, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol), to reduce pain and fever, if present
- Antiviral medications, such as acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex), to prevent or manage the infection, especially in individuals with frequent or severe infections or compromised immune systems
- Topical anesthetics, such as prilocaine, lidocaine, benzocaine, and tetracaine, to reduce local itching and pain on the fingers
What are the potential complications of whitlow?
Rarely, complications of untreated whitlow can be serious. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of whitlow include:
- Encephalitis (inflammation and swelling of the brain due to a viral infection or other causes)
- Meningitis (infection or inflammation of the sac around the brain and spinal cord)
- Severe discomfort or pain
- Skin ulcerations and infections
- Spread of infection
- Tenosynovitis (tendon inflammation)
Herpes simplex. MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001324.htm. Accessed April 24, 2011.
Yao P. Clinical vignette: herpetic whitlow. UCLA Department of Medicine. http://www.med.ucla.edu/modules/wfsection/article.php?articleid=252. Accessed April 24, 2011.
What is a whitlow?
A whitlow is a painful infection on the fingers caused by the herpes simplex virus. It is also known as herpetic whitlow.... Read more about whitlow introduction
What are the symptoms of whitlow?
Symptoms of whitlow primarily affect the fingers, but other general body symptoms may accompany your finger symptoms and may indicate a severe infection.... Read more about whitlow symptoms
What causes a whitlow?
Whitlow is caused by infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is more common and is often contracted during childhood. It is usually associated with cold sores and blisters on the lips, mouth or face. HSV-2 is slightly less common. It is primarily transmitted sexually and usually causes sores in the genital area. However, both types can occur in either location.... Read more about whitlow causes