Felons: A Matter on Hand

Publication Date: 
Thu, 01/01/2015
By: Alere Staff

Did you know that an infection of the fingertip is called a felon? A felon is an abscess in the little compartments found in the pad of the fingertip.1 This can occur when bacteria enters the tissue as the result of a penetration injury such as a splinter or shard of glass. Felons have also been reported following multiple finger–stick blood tests.1 The abscess causes swelling and is quite painful. This swelling can put pressure on the tissues and can block the blood flow. 2 It is very important for hand infections to be diagnosed and treated properly to prevent significant problems and loss of function. If untreated, the infection can spread to the bone and tendons in the hand.2

How You Can Prevent Felons

Always carefully wash your hands with soap and water immediately before pricking your finger for your blood test. Use a new paper towel or clean towel to dry them. Rotate the sites where you prick your finger.  For example, think of the face of a clock and choose location of 10 or 11, and 1 and 2. Rotate your choice of fingers on both hands but avoid using your thumb. If your finger tip becomes red (that does not go away after a few minutes), or becomes swollen and painful, see your doctor right away.


  1. Clark, Dwayne C, CDR, MC, USN. Common Acute Hand Infections. American Family Physician. 2003 Dec. 1;68(11):2167-2176. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/1201/p2167.html  
  2. Vaughn, Glen MD. Felon. Medscape. 2014 Jan. 3. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/782537-overview#a0104