• Monday May 25,2020

Hand infections (panaritium, paronychia, phlegmon)

Abrasions and small cuts on the hand can easily occur when dealing with tools or gardening and housework and are often ignored. In case of persistent symptoms, however, hand infections must also be considered.

What are hand infections?

The causes of hand infections of all three forms are often staphylococci or fungi, which can penetrate into the skin after an injury.
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Hand infections often occur after being injured by germs that can more easily penetrate the wound through the wound. On the inside of the hand, they can penetrate deep into the tissue, because the skin there is particularly firmly connected to the underlying tissue layers.

The same applies to the tissue on the flexor side of the fingers. Hand infections are differentiated according to the type of infection of the forms panaritium, paronychia and phlegmon. Panaritium is a general description of an infection on the fingers, which can occur both in the joint and under a nail and under the skin.

Paronychia, on the other hand, refers to an infection at the lower part of the nail bed, the so-called nail wall. A phlegmone is a hand infection of the hollow hand or tendon sheaths. Here are the fingers are not affected.


The causes of hand infections of all three forms are often staphylococci or fungi that can invade the skin after a self-inflicted injury. The handling of tools, the nail care or bite injuries of animals can lead to hand infections.

If the germs have penetrated the wound, it comes to an inflammation. In certain pre-existing conditions, hand infections may be more likely. These include patients with immunodeficiency, but also cancer patients and diabetics. Circulatory disorders also favor the development of hand infections.

Symptoms, complaints & signs

Hand infections such as paronychia or phlegmon are initially manifested by inflammation of the affected area by hand or finger. Sometimes there are pustules or puffiness, which hurt when pressure. In the further course of the disease may also occur on pain in movement, which can spread to the entire hand.

Depending on the nature and severity of the infection, the nerves of the hand may also be affected. Then paralysis or sensory disturbances can appear. In addition, typical symptoms such as fever and malaise appear. The hand feels hot and is very sensitive to pressure. Those affected usually feel a throbbing pain.

Externally, a hand infection is primarily visible in the visible redness. This usually occurs shortly after infection with the pathogen and increases in size during the first few days. Finally, a blister or swelling forms. Normally, the hand infection will resolve itself, insofar as the person concerned observes a strict body hygiene and otherwise spares himself. In severe cases, the infection can progress further and spread to other areas of the body. This can be recognized by an increasing malaise and severe pain in the hand.

Diagnosis & History

The doctor can easily detect hand infections based on the described symptoms such as pain, swelling and the existing restriction of movement. The hand is also very sensitive to pressure and warmer compared to a healthy hand. All of these symptoms already indicate an inflammatory reaction.

As the hand infection progresses, a general feeling of illness with fever and chills may be added to the patient. Also, the lymph nodes in the armpits are swollen and give the doctor another indication of inflammation. This can be detected by a blood test. To find out what kind of germ it is, a swab is taken from the wound.

If deeper soft tissues or bones and joints are affected by hand infections, an X-ray, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or a CT (computed tomography) must also be used to determine how far the infection has progressed.


In most cases, hand infections do not cause any special complications and do not require treatment by a doctor. They heal relatively often by themselves, if the hands are maintained and a high standard of hygiene is present. Without treatment, the hand infections lead primarily to staky pain. This pain can occur under stress or in the form of rest pain and lead to sleep at night.

Likewise, the hands are reddened and possibly covered with patches and swollen. The movement of the fingers and hands is severely limited by the hand infections and the pain, so that it can lead to limitations and complications in everyday life. Under certain circumstances, the person concerned can no longer fulfill his or her job due to the hand infections. Patients often suffer from fever and pain in the extremities due to the infection itself.

Further, headaches and chills also occur. The hand infections are treated with the help of antibiotics and analgesics. It does not lead to further complications if the person cares for his hands and rest. If the person concerned does not pay attention to sufficient hygiene, it can also lead to blood poisoning. This leads in many cases to death.

When should you go to the doctor?

Since hand infections spread to other areas and regions of the body where they can cause discomfort and complications, hand infections should always be treated by a doctor. The doctor should be consulted if, after a cut or after another injury to the hand, the typical symptoms of hand infections occur. These include burning and stinging pain, accompanied by redness. Also, swelling can occur on the hand and lead to a restriction in the movement.

As a rule, strong hand pain also indicates a hand infection. Furthermore, an infection can lead to fever or paralysis on the hand. If these symptoms occur, immediate treatment by a doctor is required.

The hand infections can be treated by a general practitioner. Only in serious cases is it necessary to visit a hospital. Normally, a positive course of disease occurs quickly.

Treatment & Therapy

The earliest possible therapy prevents the infection from spreading. An abrasion should be treated at home with disinfectant as far as possible and then protected with a plaster.

If such a wound does not improve within a few days, a doctor must be consulted. Therapy then requires the treatment of the wound and the taking of an antibiotic. For severe pain, analgesics can also be taken. It is also very important to check the current vaccination status against tetanus. If necessary, a second vaccination is necessary. With hand infections that are more advanced, an operation is inevitable because the affected skin tissue must be removed.

If the infection is not stopped, the patient is at risk of loss of fingers or hand. The emergence of blood poisoning (sepsis) must be prevented. The resulting wound may be supplied with drainage and must be flushed regularly. The dressing change is then necessary daily. In order to further promote wound healing in hand infections, the arm is immobilized and the patient should use as little stress as possible. With appropriate treatment, hand infections quickly disappear.

Outlook & Forecast

An infection on the hand is usually caused by bacteria. It is difficult to give an accurate prognosis and prognosis regarding the course of the disease since this depends on many different factors. In addition, the entire course of the disease is greatly influenced by whether the person concerned visits a doctor or whether the person completely decides against a medical and drug treatment.

If the affected person decides to seek medical and medical treatment, then nothing stands in the way of a complete and speedy recovery. With appropriate or anti-inflammatory drugs, the existing inflammation can be quickly and effectively inhibited.

The situation is different, however, if the person concerned completely decides against treatment with medication. It may be that the infection is spreading throughout the body, which can lead to an infection in the worst case. The danger of blood poisoning exists, so that acute danger to life threatens. In case of infection, a doctor should be consulted immediately. As a result, the entire healing process can be positively influenced.


Hand infections can be prevented when working with tools or in the garden only by using appropriate protective gloves. It is important to watch the healing process of each injury. If the wound does not recover by itself or if it worsens after a few days, a doctor must be consulted to rule out hand infections.


The possibilities of follow-up for hand infections are very much dependent on the exact nature and severity of the infection, so that no general prognosis can be given. In some cases, no follow-up care is necessary or necessary, so only a normal doctor's treatment is required. The person concerned should visit a doctor for hand infections at the first symptoms and signs, so it does not lead to further complications or discomfort.

The sooner a doctor is visited, the better is usually the further course of this complaint. As a rule, the life expectancy of the person affected by hand infections does not decrease. After healing such an infection, the palms should not be stressed. It is to be foreseen from work that would affect the entire hands. Even a bandage can protect against further infections.

Similarly, the sufferer should cream his hands and grease, so it does not come to a cracked skin. If the hand infections are treated by the use of antibiotics, the person concerned should pay attention to a regular intake and also to the correct dosage. Antibiotics should not be taken together with alcohol, as their effect is otherwise alleviated.

You can do that yourself

For hand infections, it is important to follow the doctor's instructions regarding wound care and medication. The infections or wounds are at home regularly and as prescribed to clean and maintain.

If necessary, the wound should be washed and bandages changed. Through appropriate hygienic measures, the infections sound faster and the hand is faster again resilient. Under no circumstances may wounds be scratched; in addition, contact with cosmetics and other substances should be avoided.

Basically, the affected hand is to be taken care of by the patients and not be exposed to little or no stress. Necessary work and handles are to be carried out with the other hand, but also here an overstraining is possible and to prevent.

Because the risk of tendinitis is given especially when it is the replacement hand to the normally weak hand, in right-handers so the left. Overall, it is advisable to take a lot of rest and keep the physical burden of body and hands low. It is also important to take prescribed medications as prescribed and to pay attention to possible side effects in order to promote general well-being.

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