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 5/30/2009
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.