How to handle an infected thumb in babies

Updated July 20, 2017

They are little bundles of joy, but babies can also be a bundle of worries for their parents. One common worry is a thumb infection. Babies who suck their thumbs are far more prone to thumb infections than babies who use a pacifier. The following are ways to identify and handle a thumb infection.

Don’t assume a red thumb is just chaffed from sucking. This is a common mistake parents make. They see the thumb is red and expect that it merely requires lanolin to soothe the chaffed skin.

Look for swelling. An infected thumb may be accompanied by swelling or a collection of puss.

Visit your paediatrician immediately if you suspect an infected thumb. Your paediatrician may prescribe an antibiotic regimen.

Wash the area repeatedly throughout the day with mild soap and water to aid the healing process.

Keep the thumb clean and dry. If possible, try to deter baby from sucking on the thumb.

Monitor the thumb closely. If the infection spreads further down the thumb or swelling persists, call your doctor immediately.

Be patient. The thumb won't heal overnight. Even though a baby’s skin has miraculous regenerative powers, infected thumbs take several days to clear.


Don’t be surprised if you find that the skin around the thumb peels during the healing process.


If there is a collection of puss on your baby's thumb, do not try to lance it yourself. Leave that to the paediatrician.

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