Tuesday, April 10, 2007


A few days back I had a problem with an infection immediately beside one of my fingernails. The area was red, swollen and throbbing and there was an obvious pus pocket under the cuticle. I put water, hot enough that it was just bearable to put my finger in it, into a cup and added a couple of spoons of Epsom salt to the water and soaked my finger for a good 30 minutes, periodically zapping the water in the microwave to keep it hot. By the end of this time the hot water and Epsom salts had drawn the pus to the surface and I was able to gently squeeze it out through a small gap between the cuticle and nail. Cool, huh?

I wanted to continue to draw the infection to the surface but it was bedtime, ruling out further hot water soaking. So I retrieved a probably 10-year old jar of Magnoplasm -- it's basically jellied Epsom salts -- from the medicine cabinet. I applied the Magnoplasm to the infection, bandaged it and left it overnight.

While applying the Magnoplasm I noticed the following on the label: "A useful treatment for boils, carbuncles and whitlows". What's the difference?

A boil (aka furuncle) is simply a localized skin abscess.

A carbuncle is a grouping of boils, probably with multiple drainage points.

A whitlow is an infection next to a nail, caused by something nasty (bacteria, virus or fungus) penetrating through a break in a cuticle.

Cool, I learned something new. My whitlow is all better now, by the way.

Editing note: Infections produce "pus", not "puss". Corrected. Duh.


Anonymous Legal Eagle said...

Yowch. I think I had one of those when I was a kid. And it hurt like blazes (I gather the nail bed is very sensitive to pain).

2:19 PM  

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