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By David R. Steinberg, MD, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

A felon is an infection of the soft tissue (pulp) at the fingertip, usually caused by bacteria.

A felon can lead to a pocket of pus (abscess), which creates pressure on and causes death of nearby tissues. The fingertip becomes very warm, swollen, and firm with intense throbbing pain. The doctor makes the diagnosis by examining the affected finger. If a felon is not treated promptly, the underlying bone, joint, or tendons may become infected. Treatment is prompt surgical drainage of the abscess and antibiotics taken by mouth.

* This is the Consumer Version. *