Does your mind ever wonder if the pain is a relative or subjective concept? And how can one quantify pain, and can little things hurt more or does the size matter at all? Now before you think something is wrong, let me assure you it isn’t. I was just considering this whole pain-ology for us. You know we discuss medical conditions, and where there are medical issues, there is bound to be some pain. Today’s medical condition is – Whitlow.
A whitlow is an infection that happens on one’s finger or fingers, around the nail cuticle or tip of the finger. It appears as swollen, angry red fingers with an abscess (sores/blisters with pus). There may be one blister or a cluster of them. Now, even though the size of the problem is small yet they are said to cause prodigious amounts of pain.
There are two types of Whitlow:
Herpetic Whitlow: Which is the type people mostly are referring to when they talk about whitlow. This type of whitlow is caused by HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus), type 1 or type 2. Type 1 is the cold sore type that affects the facial area, whereas type 2 affects the genitals. Now herpes virus is quite infamous for being highly contagious, so when your fingers come in contact with any of these affected areas, you end up with herpetic whitlow.
Staphylococcal Whitlow: This happens if you hurt your finger some way leading to any cut or tear in the skin leading to infection.
So Herpetic Whitlow can happen when fingers come in contact with HSV infected areas. You may also contact them for some other person infected with HSV.
Symptoms of it include swollen red fingers with blisters filled with pus. You may experience itchiness, pain and suffer from high fever.
If you aren’t sure of the fact whether your blisters are regular blisters or Whitlow, consult a doctor. They will either have you do a blood test or a skin swab from an infected area.
The good news is that Whitlow gets self-healed. Within a span of 1 to 3 weeks, they will clear out on their own without any treatment as well. Just make sure to keep it under wraps till it’s gone. Remember that HSV is highly contagious, so unless you want it spreading to other parts, keep your fingers bandaged. However, you may take antivirals to speed up the process of healing, provided you take them within first 48 hours of the symptoms occurring. Other over the counter medicines (ibuprofen and paracetamol) can be taken to combat fever and pain with instructions from a certified doctor. Additionally, clean the infected area daily and cover it. Also, avoid using contacts during this period to stop the infection from entering eyes. And at all costs avoid draining out the pus from the blisters, let the drying out happen in its own time.
Now my conclusion to this whole pain thing has been summed up by the Buddhist proverb – “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”. So, don’t suffer.