Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Finger Infection

Finger Infection Causes

Bacteria cause most of these finger infections. The exception to this is the herpetic whitlow, which is caused by a virus. How the infection starts and is found in a particular location is what makes each specific type of infection unique. Usually some form of trauma is the initial event. This may be a cut, animal bite, or puncture wound.

  • Paronychia: The offending bacteria are usually staphylococcal and streptococcal organisms. Rarely, a fungus causes this infection, which usually begins as a hangnail. Often a person will attempt to bite off the piece of nail that is at the corner. This results in an open wound that allows the bacteria found on the skin and the bacteria found in the mouth to infect the wound. The infection can then spread to the surrounding tissue next to the nail and cuticle.
  • Felon: This bacterial infection of the finger pad, caused by the same organisms that cause paronychia, is usually the result of a puncture wound. The wound allows the introduction of bacteria deep into the fingertip pad. Because the fingertip has multiple compartments, the infection is contained in this area.
  • Herpetic whitlow: The offending viral organism is the herpes simplex virus type I or II. This is the same virus that causes oral or genital herpes infections. People in certain occupations are more at risk for this infection. These include dentists, hygienists, physicians, nurses, or any other person who may have contact with saliva or body fluids that contain the virus. People with oral or genital herpes may also infect their own fingers.
  • Cellulitis: The most common causes of this bacterial infection are staphylococcal and streptococcal organisms. This infection is usually the result of an open wound that allows the bacteria to infect the local skin and tissue. The infection can also spread to the hand and fingers by blood carrying the organisms.
  • Infectious flexor tenosynovitis: This bacterial infection is usually the result of penetrating trauma that introduces bacteria into the deep structures and tendon sheaths, which allows the spread along the tendon and associated sheath.
  • Deep space infection: This bacterial infection is usually the result of a puncture wound or deep cut that introduces the bacteria to the deep tissue. The collar button abscess is associated with the web space between the fingers. The deep structures of the hand create many potential compartments for an infection to invade.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
Remember your finger
Are You Getting More Forgetful?
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.