Can You Get Cold Sores on Fingers (Herpetic whitlow)?

Cold sores on fingers are a result of the HSV-1 and sometimes the HSV-2 virus.

Like any virus, one of the biggest risks is it spreading. Most of the time, we think about the spreading of a virus to other people. But, it’s also important to think about spreading the herpes virus to other areas of your own body.

If you’ve ever noticed what looks like cold sore blisters on your fingers, there’s a good chance the virus has spread to your hands. Knowing the symptoms can help when it comes to identifying and treating them correctly.

Keep in mind that cold sores, or fever blisters, are sometimes referred to as oral herpes. That’s because they most commonly affect the lips and mouth. While it’s rare, the virus can spread to your fingers, causing a condition known as Herpetic whitlow.

What Are the Symptoms of Cold Sores on Hands?

If you start to notice the symptoms, there’s a good chance you’ve already experienced them around the mouth, or elsewhere. It’s very uncommon for cold sores to show up on the fingers without spreading from somewhere else on the body (a secondary infection).

As it is, the blisters showing up on your hands is rare in any case. However, it is possible, even if it isn’t as common.

Symptoms to look for include:

In addition to those common symptoms, some people will experience things like muscle aches, or even a fever. It’s important to remember that these cold sores are caused by a virus. That virus can affect the body in different ways.

How to Treat Cold Sores on Fingers

How Do People Get Cold Sores on Fingers or Hands?

In order to get cold sores on the hands, they’ll likely be contracted from another person, or from existing cold sores elsewhere on your own body. If you contract Herpetic whitlow or whitlow finger, the stages are similar to what you might experience with cold sores on the mouth. They go through different stages in their short life span.

These 5 stages of cold sores as follows:

  • Stage One: Tingling and itching a day or so before the appearance of the blister.
  • Stage Two: The formation of fluid-filled blisters.
  • Stage Three: Oozing, bursting blisters. These can cause painful and irritating sores.
  • Stage Four: Scabbing or crusting of blisters. This can cause it to itch or crack.
  • Stage Five: As the scab begins to fade and fall off, the cold sore will begin to heal.

It’s during stage three that most people will contract cold sores from other people, or other areas of the body. This is when the sores are open, and the oozing liquid coming from them can cause the virus to spread quickly.

For example, if you have a cold sore on your lip, and touch it with your fingers, you may be putting yourself at risk for the sore to spread to your hands. Additionally, if you touch someone else with an open sore, the same risk factors come into play.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

Cold sores will fade away on their own. However, if they crack and burst open, they will become painful. Plus, you’re risking infection each time they open and ooze. Treating a sore quickly will minimize pain, reduce the healing time, and stop it from spreading.

It is a virus that will remain within you forever once it’s been contracted. According to the Mayo Clinic, over 90% of adults will test positive for this virus.

However, some people will experience more symptoms and outbreaks than others. You may have the virus and don’t even know it if you’ve never had a fever blister flare up.

The virus remains dormant most of the time. Yet, there is no cure for HSV-1. When you’re treating a cold sore, you’re treating the symptoms and trying to find relief.

Some of the most common treatment options include creams and antiviral medications.

  • Your doctor may prescribe a week’s course of an antiviral drug called of aciclovir (200 mg). This is more commonly known as Zovirax.

Controlling Cold Sores on the Hands

Yes, you can get cold sores on your hands. More specifically, you’re more likely to get cold sores on your fingers. They are much rarer than cold sores on the mouth, lips, etc. Because your hands are exposed to more touching, the risk of spreading the virus becomes greater.

No matter what treatment option you choose, however, the most important thing to keep in mind is how to prevent the spread of cold sores. Preventative practices can also keep you from having frequent outbreaks.

  • Quarantine the sore as quickly as possible. Something as simple as petroleum jelly can provide moisture to the sore while creating a barrier. That helps it from splitting open and spreading.
  • Cover the sore with some light dressing. This is intended to prevent the virus from spreading because we often touch our face and eyes without realizing it.
  • Don’t wear contact lenses until after the virus has cleared up.

Take the proper precautionary measures for fast healing, and minimal risk of spreading. If you experience a cold sore outbreak anywhere on your body, keeping your hands away from open blisters can prevent them from showing up on your fingers.