Next Steps - Follow-up
You need to understand the doctor’s instructions completely and ask any questions needed to thoroughly understand your care at home.
- If you have been prescribed antibiotics for a finger infection, you must follow the directions and take them for the prescribed time period.
- Often your doctor will instruct you to keep your hand elevated to prevent swelling. This is important and needs to be done both during the day and night. By placing pillows next to you while sleeping, your hand can remain elevated.
- Wound care will often need to be continued at home. This may include daily warm water soaks, dressing changes, and application of antibiotic ointment. The different types of wound care are extensive. Your doctor should explain in detail.
- The finger or hand may be placed in a splint. This provides both immobilization and protection. It will be important to follow the instructions regarding the care of the splint. You will need to protect and properly care for the splint. You should closely monitor the finger or hand to watch for complications such as swelling or infection under the splint.
- Often, you will be asked to return to the doctor’s office in 24-48 hours. This may be necessary to remove packing or change a dressing. It is very important that you have close follow-up care to monitor the progress or identify any further problems.
Common sense safety practices will help prevent many of the finger wounds that become a problem. Simple things such as wearing protective work gloves may prevent injury. Wearing latex or vinyl gloves is mandatory if possible exposure to bodily fluids is expected. Avoid chewing on your nails, and wash your hands as needed. Seek early medical attention before an infection is present.
If the infections are treated early and properly, the prognosis for full recovery is good. However, if treatment is delayed, or if the infection is severe, the prognosis is not as good.
- With the infections that involve deep structures such as flexor tenosynovitis, even with the best care, the outcome may be less than desirable. Loss of function, loss of sensation, disfigurement, or even loss of the finger is possible.
- Your doctor will need to evaluate each case individually and present the likely outcome based on the findings.
For More Information
See the following for related finger injuries:
Media file 1: Flexor tendon sheaths and radial and ulnar bursae. Image courtesy of Randle L Likes, DO.