Hand infections cover any bacterial, viral, fungal or other agent infecting the hand. They are very common in the general population, especially in professions or sports involving work where calluses or cuts and scrapes on the hands are common and bacteria can get in.
Infections may range from minor to severe and if left untreated may be hand or digit threatening. Minor infections are those occurring at the edge of the nail (paronychia), or in the web space of the fingers. The more serious ones are the felon (pulp space abscess), a flexor tenosynovitis (infection around the tendons) or a deep palmar space abscess.
Usually patients will present to their GP and initially be prescribed antibiotics if they have a minor infection. However, if there is an obvious collection of pus or this is not resolving it then they need to be referred for surgical drainage.