What is whitlow?

Whitlow is the inflammation, redness and swelling of the tissue surrounding the fingernail. In most cases, whitlow is triggered by an infection from a previous inflammation, such as trauma or contact with irritating substances. Whitlow particularly affects the thumb and forefinger.

What are the symptoms of whitlow?

In addition to inflammation, whitlow triggers an infection that causes a lesion to form on the upper section of the finger. Typically, whitlow causes the following symptoms:

  • Intense, throbbing pain
  • Swelling and redness of the fingertip
  • Itching and burning
  • Blisters or sores containing inflammatory exudates

What are the causes of whitlow?

At the root of whitlow is usually an infection with bacteria or fungi. These microorganisms penetrate the skin through small injuries such as scratches, punctures, small abrasions or, following overly harsh manicures. In other cases, these microorganisms are carried into the skin by the saliva of the individual themselves through nail or cuticle biting.

How to treat whitlow

It’s very important:

  • Avoid wetting the affected finger
  • Apply PEG Balm morning and evening until symptoms disappear
  • Avoid biting nails or cuticles, or sucking on fingers
  • Avoid using disinfectants as they can increase inflammation
  • Avoid occlusive dressers

Avoid exposing the skin to common household chemicals such as ammonia, bleach or descalers.

Further insights