Definition of whitlow in English:



  • An abscess in the soft tissue near a fingernail or toenail.

    • ‘I have a whitlow on the end of my finger, how should I treat it?’
    • ‘I should have remembered, as a dental colleague has just reminded me, what a problem herpetic whitlows used to be in our dental undergraduates before they were made to wear gloves.’
    • ‘Unfortunately due a stabbing incident involving a ‘safety’ pin I am now the proud owner of a whitlow on the said finger, which is slowing my blogging down.’
    • ‘Herpetic whitlow usually is self-limited and resolves in two to three weeks.’
    • ‘At first symptoms, just immerse affected part in hot water about 3 times daily and in a day or two the whitlow goes away.’
    • ‘Herpetic whitlow results from autoinoculation of type 1 or type 2 herpes simplex virus into broken skin.’
    • ‘Complications in herpetic whitlow include bacterial infection of the sore and possible spread of the virus.’
    • ‘Herpetic whitlow is an HSV infection of the fingers and toes and may represent a primary infection or a secondary recurrence of type 1 or 2 HSV infection.’
    • ‘Another causes whitlows on fingers, feet, knees and shoulders.’
    • ‘Nursery personnel with an active herpetic whitlow should not have direct care of neonates.’
    boil, blister, sore, abscess, pustule, pimple, spot, wart, papule, wen, canker
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Late Middle English (also as whitflaw, -flow), apparently from white + flaw in the sense ‘crack’, but perhaps related to Dutch fijt ‘whitlow’.