by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A felon is an infection in the fleshy part of the fingertip. It can cause a buildup of pus. This can cause pressure and stop blood flow to nearby tissue.
Felon is caused by bacteria that has passed through a break in the skin. Common breaks on fingertip include a splinter, a paper cut, or needle puncture.
Trauma to the fingertip is the main risk factor. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Problems may be:
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked about any recent injury to the finger. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
A sample of pus may be taken from the area. It will show the exact type of bacteria causing the infection. This can help guide treatment of severe infections.
Early treatment can stop the infection from spreading and causing damage. This can be done with:
Surgery may be needed for people with severe infection who are not helped by other methods.
The risk of this problem can be lowered by:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Public Health Agency of Canada
Felon. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/felon. Accessed September 11, 2020.
Felon. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Accessed September 11, 2020.
Koshy JC, Bell B. Hand Infections. J Hand Surg Am. 2019 Jan;44(1):46-54.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Shawna Grubb, RN
Last Updated: 3/23/2021