What Is the Best Thing to Soak an Infected Finger in?

Medically Reviewed on 12/30/2022

Should I be worried if my finger is infected?

As finger infections tend to become more severe, there is limited scope for home remedies.
A simple finger infection could be treated by using home remedies and treatments, such as soaking it in salt water.

As finger infections tend to become more severe, there is limited scope for home remedies. A slight infection of the finger can be managed at home if the person does not have any underlying medical condition like diabetes. For other infections, seek immediate medical care to avoid disability or loss of the finger.

What is the home remedy for finger infection?

A simple infection of the finger can be treated by soaking it in:

  • A mixture of pre-boiled warm water with antibacterial soap for 15 minutes, two to four times a day
  • Water with Epsom salt to soothe the area and provide pain relief
  • Apple cider vinegar because it has antibacterial and antifungal properties
  • An antiseptic solution of warm water

However, if you do not find any improvement, then consult a physician without delay.

How do you heal an infected finger fast?

You can take care of an infected finger by following these instructions from the doctor:

  • Wash the finger with clean water two times a day. Do not use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol.
  • Next, cover the area with a thin layer of antiseptic ointment and a bandage.
  • Take the antibiotics as prescribed. Complete the course of antibiotics even if you feel better.
  • Take over-the-counter painkillers if required. However, do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless prescribed by the physician.
  • Apply a warm compress or warm cloth on the infected finger.
  • Elevate the infected finger above the level of the heart to reduce pain and swelling.

What are the causes of finger infection?

The most common cause of finger infections is bacteria.

Other causes of finger infection include:

  • Trauma to the finger or hand (finger cut, finger crush injury, hand laceration, infected hangnail, or infected cuticle)
  • Paronychia (staphylococcal or streptococcal organisms cause this infection. Fungus may also cause this type of infection)
  • Felon (bacterial infection of the finger pad caused by the same organism that causes paronychia)
  • Herpetic whitlow (herpes simplex virus type I or II causes this type of finger infection)
  • Cellulitis (a serious bacterial infection attacking an open wound)
  • Infectious flexor tenosynovitis (a bacterial infection that affects deep structures caused due to a penetrating trauma)
  • Deep space infection (a bacterial infection caused due to a puncture wound or deep cut)

What are the risk factors for finger infection?

Some of the risk factors for finger infection include:

  • Nail-biting
  • Picking cuticles
  • Frequent sucking on a finger
  • Clipping a nail too short or trimming the cuticle
  • Aggressive manicuring or cuticle trimming
  • Penetrating trauma
  • Picking hangnails
  • Deep cuts
  • Any open wound
  • Diabetes
  • Compromised immune system
  • Certain occupations, such as dentists, hygienists, physicians, and nurses
  • Extended exposure of the hands to water (such as dishwashers)

How to prevent finger infection?

Finger infection can be prevented by following these measures, which include:

  • Not biting the nails or picking the cuticles around them
  • Not cutting the nails too short. Trim the nails with a cutter and smooth the sharp edges. The best time to trim the nails is after a shower when the nails are softer.
  • Avoid pushing the cuticles back, rather trim them or use a cuticle remover. Damaging the cuticles may pave the way for bacteria to enter your skin.
  • Wear rubber gloves while washing a lot of dishes
  • Control your blood sugar level if you are diabetic
  • Maintain good hygiene by keeping your hands and feet clean and dry
  • Be gentle while manicuring your nails
  • Do not puncture or cut into an abscess yourself
  • Consult the doctor if you observe any complications


Bacterial Infections 101: Types, Symptoms, and Treatments See Slideshow

What is the reduction of finger dislocation procedure?

Finger Dislocation
If your finger dislocation is not severe, the doctor can immediately fix your finger in the following ways.

If your finger dislocation is not severe, the doctor can immediately fix your finger dislocation by externally manipulating and putting your bone back in its original position. This is known as a closed reduction. Before they do this, you might get a local anesthetic medication to numb your finger.

  • During the procedure, the doctor will gently restore your finger to its correct position by gently pushing or pulling it. The doctor will do another X-ray to confirm the success of the reduction procedure.
  • A splint will be wrapped around your affected finger or taping of your affected finger will be done to its adjacent finger to secure the alignment. You need to wear the splint/tape for three to six weeks. 

If your finger dislocation is severe that it cannot be manipulated externally, your dislocated finger may need to be repaired surgically. The same reduction will be performed by opening your finger surgically, and the procedure is known as open reduction. 

If you have an open fracture in the dislocated finger, you will be put on antibiotics and given a tetanus vaccine.

What are the signs and symptoms of finger dislocation?

  • Moving the dislocated finger is extremely painful.
  • A dislocated finger is crooked and swollen.
  • There may be a bruise or cut on the dislocated finger.
  • The dislocated finger may feel abnormally loose or unstable.

What causes finger dislocation?

Forceful injury to any of the joints of the fingers can result in finger dislocation. Finger dislocation is the shifting of a bone away from its original position resulting in the misalignment of the joint.

Your finger (except for your thumb) is made up of three joints that allow it to bend forward, downward, and sideways, which include:

  • Distal interphalangeal joints: located closest to the fingernails
  • Proximal interphalangeal joints: the middle joints of the fingers
  • Metacarpophalangeal joints: located where the fingers meet the rest of your hand (knuckles)

Finger dislocations are usually caused by bending the finger backward beyond its normal range. They are the most common type of hand injuries that happen in athletes of football and basketball while catching or blocking a fast-moving ball. 

Though finger dislocation is not a medical emergency but delaying its treatment might increase the swelling in the finger making the treatment difficult.

How long does it take to recover from finger dislocation?

  • You can return to your sport once your doctor has confirmed that your dislocated finger joint is now stable.
  • Recovery from a surgery like closed reduction usually takes at least four to six weeks before you can return to your sport.
  • You might also require physical or occupational therapy to strengthen your affected joint and help you recover faster.
Medically Reviewed on 12/30/2022
Cunha JP. Finger Infection. eMedicine Health. https://www.emedicinehealth.com/finger_infection/article_em.htm

Teens Health. Paronychia. https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/paronychia.html

Reduction of Finger Dislocation. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/109206

Finger dislocation. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/finger-dislocation#1

Finger dislocation. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/finger-dislocation-a-to-z