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What Is a Herpetic Whitlow? And How Do Children Get It?

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Today’s parents understand the difficulties of dealing with ill children due to the transmission of germs, bacteria, and viruses. Besides common childhood illnesses such as colds, cases of flu, pink eye, or ear infections, parents need to be aware of other possible clinical diagnoses, such as a herpetic whitlow.

What is a herpetic whitlow? And how do children get it? To protect against potential infection, here is a general guide outlining what to know about this condition and its causes.

Herpetic Whitlow Infection: The Herpes Simplex Virus

What is a herpetic whitlow?Herpetic whitlow is a contagious viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), which typically leads to painful cold sores. However, instead of experiencing sores solely near the mouth, the virus spreads as a secondary infection to the fleshy areas of the fingertips, presenting as small, swollen, and inflamed fluid-filled blisters.

As the medical team at Healthline states, this complication of oral herpes affects the fingers due to direct contact of infected areas with open cuts or sores. Anyone of any age is at risk of developing these blisters, but healthcare professionals find that a herpetic whitlow condition commonly presents itself in children under the age of 10.

How Children Come Across This Skin Condition

How do children get herpetic whitlow? According to the Society for Pediatric Dermatology, “herpes can spread even if there are no visible sores, and it may also live on surfaces contaminated with infected saliva or skin.” For this reason, the virus can transfer from a source of physical contact without recognition from parents or children.

Pediatric experts recognize that this type of herpes infection is extremely prevalent in children with oral herpes—aka cold sores—who typically suck their thumbs. Young children with sucking habits are at an increased risk of an outbreak.

Effective Prevention and Treatment Strategies

Keep in mind, once an individual has this herpes virus, the infection stays in the body for life. After resolving and becoming dormant, whitlow may come back to the same area of the finger in the future. Advocating healthy hand hygiene, preventing finger cuts and sores, and keeping the digits out of the mouth are significantly important.

Skin problems and infections are one of the dangers of thumb sucking you must pay attention to. Concerned parents should take the appropriate steps to break theirchild’s digit sucking habits when prolonged, intensified, or frequented. Professional prevention products serve as effective and quick treatment solutions to sideline the behavior for good. Consider the benefits of the AeroThumb or AeroFinger devices from TGuard—learn about the proven results on our website today.


What is herpes?” from the Society for Pediatric Dermatology

What You Need to Know About Herpetic Whitlow” from Healthline