A herpetic whitlow is an infection of the herpes virus around the fingernail. In children, this is often caused by thumbsucking or finger sucking while they have a cold sore. It is seen in adult healthcare workers such as dentists because of increased exposure to the herpes virus. The use of rubber gloves prevents herpes whitlow in healthcare workers.
Review Date 8/10/2021
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.