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What Are the Common Causes of Pus in the Finger?

Treatment for bacterial infection in the finger includes soaking the finger in hot water two or three times per day.
Biting a hangnail can sometimes cause an infection that creates pus.
Picking a hangnail can lead to pus in the finger.
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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2014
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Pus in the finger is caused by infection. Paroncychia is an infection commonly found around the fingernails and toenails. It is generally caused by injuries such as picking or biting a hangnail or incorrectly trimming the cuticles. Types of paronychial infections include yeast infections, fungal infections, and bacterial infections. A fungal infection and bacterial infection can occur simultaneously.

Fungal nail infections are common in diabetics and people whose hands are frequently in water. Symptoms of nail infections can include pus, changes in the shape or color of the nail, and swelling. In addition, the area may be red and painful with an increase in skin temperature. Other signs of a fungal infection include thickened green or yellow nails covered with ridges.

Treatment for a bacterial infection in the finger includes soaking the finger in hot water between two and three times per day, which helps reduce inflammation and pain, and taking antibiotics. The doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment, an oral antibiotic, or combination of both. In addition, a minor surgical procedure may be recommended to remove all or part of the infected nail.

If pus in the finger is related to a fungal infection, the doctor may recommend an antifungal medication. Other treatment recommendations may include keeping the fingers dry and applying a skin-drying agent. Although infections that cause pus generally respond well to treatment, infection caused by fungal agents may not resolve for a few months.

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Although rare, complications from a nail infection can occur. Symptoms of complications include fever and chills, red streaks on the nail or skin, muscle and joint pain, and feeling ill. When these symptoms occur, a doctor can evaluate the symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment. Another complication of a nail infection can be an increase in pain or pain that is not manageable. This may signal a worsening infection and will need to be assessed.

When pus is present, it is important to note that trying to self-treat by lancing the infected area can result in a more severe infection or even cause permanent damage to the tissue. Although not always possible, there are precautions that can be taken to prevent infections resulting in pus in the finger. These include not picking or biting the nails, properly caring for the nails, bringing personal manicure items to nail salons, and trying to avoid injuring the nails.

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burcinc
Post 3

My roommate had this problem recently because of a tattoo. He got a tattoo on his finger and the tattoo got infected. It blistered and drained pus. Even his hands were a little swollen. The doctor said that it's an infection but he is probably allergic to the ink as well. Anyway, after some anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics, he's fine now. But boy does he regret getting that tattoo.

fify
Post 2

@fBoyle-- Are your nails yellow and flaky as well? If so, that does sound like a fungal infection and yes, fungi can cause pus. It's not as common as it is with bacteria, but definitely possible.

By the way, do you have any ingrown nails or any other nail problems? Ingrown nails can cause pus too because the nail can cut into the side of the finger and cause an infection.

You should see a doctor for a diagnosis. He or she will tell you what to do and what medications to use. If you try to treat it yourself, you might use the wrong thing and the infection will get worse.

I had a finger infection because of an ingrown nail a few months ago. My doctor cut the nail, drained the pus, cleaned the area and packed it for me. I wouldn't have been able to do that at home. I also have diabetes, so leaving it untreated would have been extra dangerous for me.

fBoyle
Post 1

I didn't know that fungal nail infections can cause pus.

I found some pus lodged underneath my nail yesterday. My nails have also been very brittle lately. Does this sound like a fungal infection?

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