A finger pulp infection most commonly affects the fleshy area at the tip of your finger known as the finger pulp. Often the infection starts from a cut or a splinter.

  • About finger pulp infection
  • Symptoms of finger pulp infection
  • Complications of finger pulp infection
  • Causes of finger pulp infection
  • Diagnosis of finger pulp infection
  • Treatment of finger pulp infection
  • Prevention of finger pulp infection

Fingertip Infection

About finger pulp infection

A finger pulp infection is an infection in the fleshy part of your fingertip (on the palm side). It may also be referred to as staphylococcal whitlow. Infections are most common in your thumb and index finger.

The infection in your fingertip can often start from an opening in your skin, for example if you get a cut or splinter. This happens to about half of people with a finger pulp infection.

Symptoms of finger pulp infection

The main symptoms will affect your fingertip and may include:

  • a tightness or pricking sensation
  • redness
  • swelling
  • a feeling of heat or tenderness
  • a pus-filled blister (abscess)
  • a severe throbbing pain

Complications of finger pulp infection

If it’s not treated, a finger pulp infection can cause a number of complications. The main ones are listed below.

  • Osteomyelitis. This is when the infection spreads to the bone underneath your fingertip.
  • Skin necrosis. This is when the tissue in and around the infected area starts to die because there isn’t enough blood reaching it. The skin on your fingertip will appear much darker and may turn a purple or black colour.
  • Septic arthritis. This happens when the infection spreads to your finger joint. This can cause your joint to become painful and swollen.
  • Tenosynovitis. This is when the infection spreads to the sheath that surrounds the tendons in your finger. It causes pain, swelling and tenderness around the affected area. It’s the most serious complication of a finger pulp infection because the infection can spread.
  • Compartment syndrome. The swelling in your fingertip can put pressure on nerves and blood vessels and damage them.

Causes of finger pulp infection

The most common cause of a finger pulp infection is the bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria get into your skin through a wound such as a splinter or a torn nail cuticle.

A finger pulp infection can also develop if you have paronychia. This is an infection in the skin at the edge of your fingernail. If it isn’t treated, the infection can spread to the fleshy part of your fingertip.

Diagnosis of finger pulp infection

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine you. Usually an examination of your finger is enough to diagnose a finger pulp infection and other tests aren’t needed.

Your doctor may take a swab of the infected area to see what is causing the infection. This is usually only done if the infection keeps coming back or if treatment hasn’t worked.

Treatment of finger pulp infection


Keep your finger elevated as much as possible. You can apply moist heat to your finger to reduce the pain and to help draw out any pus. You can do this using a piece of gauze soaked in hot water, or by soaking your finger in warm water. Do this three or four times a day.


To treat the infection your doctor will prescribe antibiotics, usually for seven days. It’s important that you take the complete course of antibiotics.

If you need pain relief, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always read the patient information that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice.


If your doctor thinks you have an abscess, he or she may suggest you have it drained. This helps to ease pain, speed up healing and prevent complications. The procedure is called incision and drainage. You may be given a local anaesthetic. This completely blocks pain from your finger and you will stay awake during the procedure.

Your surgeon will make a small cut over the most inflamed area of your fingertip so that the pus and fluid inside can be removed. He or she will clean and pack the wound with gauze to keep it open and allow any fluid to continue draining out. Your surgeon will cover your finger with a loose dressing. If the wound is deep it may be packed with gauze to help it heal.

You will need to have the dressing changed regularly until the wound has healed. Your surgeon may also prescribe antibiotic tablets for you to take.

If your symptoms get worse, or if you start to feel generally unwell, see your doctor.

Prevention of finger pulp infection

Many finger pulp infections are caused by a break or cut in your skin which becomes infected. Take care when doing tasks where you could injure yourself, such as DIY and gardening. Wear gloves to protect your hands if possible. If you do get a cut or splinter, keep the wound clean and dry.

Call (+65) 6471 2674 (24 Hour) to make an appointment to treat finger pulp infection today.

Don’t Run The Risk

Last year, the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore saw some 50,000 participants, more than eight times the mere 6,000 it started out with one decade ago. The number of Singaporeans gritting their teeth through endurance running has been increasing exponentially each year.

However, while more lace up to go the distance, not many understand the risks of running. Whether you’re an elite or an amateur, some common injuries sideline all runner, and here are three of them.

1. Runner’s Knee

Over 40% of all running injuries affect the knee, of which the patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is the most common, reported Runner’s World magazine. Commonly known as the runner’s knee, this ailment refers to pain on the underside of the kneecaps (or patella), when they do not track well while running.

Normally, surrounding muscles hold the kneecap up in a straight line within the intercondylar groove.

Runner's Knee

Tight muscles can cause the kneecap to go “off-track” and grate along the thigh bone (or femur), causing inflammation and pain. It can be aggravated by repetitive pounding on steep and uneven terrain, according to British Journal of Sports Medicine.


Lubricant injection, Anti-inflammatory injection,physiotherapy and Medication.

2. Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is not as sophisticated as is namesake – every one in 10 runners falls prey to it, reported The New York Times. Victims feel a dull ache – usually worst first thing in the morning – along the plantar fascia, a long tendon that attaches your heel bone to your toes.
Plantar Fasciitis

Imagine the amount of stress it has to undertake during each step of your run! In severe cases of plantar fasciitis, even walking is problematic.

A common cause is overpronation, an abnormal motion of the foot. Normally, while running, your arch will lower slightly as your foot rolls forward from heel to toe. Overpronation occurs when the arch dips too much. Flat-footed and high-arched runners are also predisposed to this injury.


Shockwave therapy, Anti-inflammatory injection and Medication.


3. Shin Splints

Shin splints refer to pain at the front of your lower leg, which worsens when your toes or foot are bent downwards. Swelling or lumps may sometimes be felt on the shinbone.

It usually occurs due to inflammation of the sheath surrounding your shinbone.


Shockwave therapy, Anti-inflammatory injection and Medication.

Joint Pain Tel