HSV virus is categorized into two types - HSV-1 and HSV-2. Children with symptoms of herpetic whitlow are in all probability infected by HSV-1 virus. This virus and the infection spreads among children who have the habit of thumb-sucking or finger-sucking. This happens when children have oral lesions or oral sores and the virus from oral herpes spreads on to the fingers during thumb-sucking or finger-sucking. HSV-1 is also the cause of infection among health care workers or workers in dental care for a similar reason. These health care workers often have to deal with oral secretions of sick patients to treat them and while doing so, the infection spreads to their hands.
HSV-2 virus usually strikes adults in the age group 20 to 50 by direct contact with HSV infected genitals.
Worst of all, herpetic whitlow is a self-limited infection. This implies that the infection goes away by itself over time. The proposed treatment is to reduce the severity of symptoms and pain rather than treat the infection. Prevention, therefore, is always a better option than cure.
A common problem with herpetic whitlow is the re-occurrence of the infection. Because the infection usually goes away by itself without any direct drug, there is a good chance of a relapse without having any direct contact with the virus. Nearly half the people who are affected by this infection have repeated infections. But the recurrent infection is less painful and less severe and it may also be short-lived.
Doctors can prescribe some medications such as acyclovir, which not only helps relieve symptoms but also helps prevent recurrent infections. The common painkillers such as ibuprofen may work well to relieve the pain and discomfort that is associated with the infection.
It is always advisable to consult a doctor or physician before taking any drug in order to avoid any severe side effects which may make the condition of herpetic whitlow even more intolerable.