Rose thorn infection? (On me, not rose.)

alisande(Zone 4b)April 27, 2008

A thorn went deep into the back of my right hand yesterday, about an inch below the ring finger knuckle. It was painful, and at first I thought the tip was still imbedded under the skin. I squeezed it (not much to squeeze on the back of the hand) and washed it and applied a little alcohol. I don't think any of the thorn was left behind.

Today there's a red streak from the entry point to the knuckle (at the base of the finger), and it hurts to use that finger. Normally I would blow off such a small thing, but I remember what Patrick went through last year. This doesn't sound like his experience (no lumps or bumps), but I'm wondering if I should have it checked out if it's not better tomorrow.

I really really don't want to, so I thought I'd consult with you guys first. Diagnoses, please . . .



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I'm not a medical professional of any kind, but I know if it was me I would not at all like seeing a red streak like that.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 1:25PM
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Red streaks are bad. And that's a lot of progress overnight. If I were you, I'd go to an doctor tomorrow. (If you start running a temp over 101, or the finger becomes more painful than it is now, I'd even suggest you go to an urgent care or ER) Sometimes these infections progress very quickly.

What I do is take an ink pen and circle right around the red area, that way you can tell if it's growing.

Elaine, rn

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 2:15PM
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karl_bapst_rosenut(5a, NW Indiana)

Get thee to a doctor, pronto. Tell him it's a rose thorn. When one gets into a knuckle it can get quite serious and is easier to fix if treated sooner rather than later.
I would hope your tetanus shot is up to date!
Do a Google search for Rose thorn disease.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rose Thorn diseases on Google

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 2:15PM
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michelle_co(z5 CO)

Red streaks are bad. Infected knuckles are not especially good (exactly as Karl says). But soak it good in the warmest comfortable water tonight, for at least 20 minutes, add a little bit of mild soap (like Ivory) and of COURSE most roseaholics have epsom salts. Add that to the water, too. Most small infections will respond positively to soaking.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 6:34PM
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Cactus_joe(7b PNW)

Red or erythematous streaks developing after a puncture wound are warning signs that need to be taken seriously and treated promptly. It usually means that there is secondary bacterial infection. The streak may be due to inflammation of the lymphatic channels that drain the area, or worse, that the puncture may have pernetrated one of the tendon sheaths.

Do not self treat or self medicate in this situation. You need to see a doctor, and soon, before it gets more serious. And try and remember when it was since you last had a tetanus booster. Tetanus infection is increasing in frequency in the older age group (above 50) as the immunity that they developed from tetanus immunisation start to wane and they don't receive boosters shots every ten years.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 6:56PM
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alisande(Zone 4b)

Thanks, everyone. After I posted about this I went food shopping, and noticed the hand was much worse. My hand was pretty useless at the supermarket as I couldn't hold onto much of anything with it.

When I got home I saw the red streak had gotten longer, now heading for my wrist. I sat down at the computer and read your responses. Although I really hated to do it (the loss of time . . . the cost . . . the gas . . . I was tired!), after I put my groceries away I got back in the car and drove to the Emergency Room. Both the triage nurse and the doctor said rose thorns can be quite dangerous, and nothing to fool around with. He (the doctor) didn't think any part of the thorn remained in my hand, but he said it looked like I had a bacterial infection. The area was red, swollen, and hot. He prescribed ten days worth of antibiotics, gave me one to take immediately and one for this morning, and also gave me a tetanus shot.

I don't remember the last time I was in an ER, but I think this trip was a good idea. Thanks for giving me a push.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 7:58AM
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bloomorelse(Z4b NB Canada)

Glad you looked after this right away. Hope your recovery is quick.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 9:33AM
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roseman(Z 8A GA)

See your doctor and get a tetanus shot ASAP!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 11:23AM
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michelle_co(z5 CO)

I should clarify that my post didn't mean not to go to the Dr. I just thought you weren't going until tomorrow!

Glad you went to the ER with your worsening symptoms.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 11:34AM
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kandm(8b coastal alabama)

Thank for reminding me I should use gloves more often! Hope you feel better.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 1:04PM
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Thank goodness you went to the ER-( we all tend to drag our feet on this) but it is necessary sometimes----I have seen pictures of this disease and it is scary---I'm happy you took care of it.

Do get a Tetanus shot.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 1:38PM
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Maryl zone 7a

I'm happy you got treatment at your E.R. Had it been my local ER, your hand would have had to drop off and bounce around the floor a few times before they would have gotten around to you. But this rose thorn disease business is serious. I took a copy of an article about it that was in the ARS magazine last year to my primary physician just to make sure he was aware of it.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 2:56PM
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There is also a fungus transmitted from rose thorns. My alert pcp looked at the ugly calloused and peeling patch on my right middle finger and said it reminded him of a dermatology class in med school. He took a circular plug of the nasty tough spot, sent it off to the state lab, where over a long time it grew the fungus. I had gotten a handful of thorns doing an unplanned quick rose clip to take to work one morning in early June. The finger was red, swollen, then cracked, bled, healed, and repeated that cycle pretyy much through the summer. I complained about it in early fall, and was given a course of antifungal medication to take in pill form. I always use gloves when handling the canes. (I do carefully clip blooms barehanded, though....)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 4:00PM
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Cactus_joe(7b PNW)

This is a good time to remind ourselves to update our tetanus shots - it needs to be done once every ten years.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 6:10PM
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alisande(Zone 4b)

Thanks, everyone. I got the tetanus shot at the hospital, and prodded my grown children to update theirs.

Here's a scary tale from the UK. I'm just as glad I didn't read it last night.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 6:12PM
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Hello Everyone

I read the above posts and found them to be very informative.
About 3 weeks ago I was pronged by a rose thorn, in the knuckle of my middle finger the thorn went very deep. The next morning the finger was extremely swolen and I barely could bend it. I was on a course of anti-biotics so I thought that I was safe. After a couple of days the swelling went down and it seemed to do alright.
Now 2-3 weeks later the joint is extremely painfull and bending my finger is getting more difficult. Also it seems that there is pain radiating up my arm to my elbow.
I had tennis elbow (why they called it that, I will never know), it should be called screaming pain elbow:) Never the less it seems that the T.E has gone away but the radiating pain is still on going.
No red lines up the arm.
Any advice?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 11:52AM
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alisande(Zone 4b)

Arieden, I ended up having surgery for this (real, operating-room, anesthesia surgery), as the tip of the thorn had remained inside, resting on a tendon in my hand.

My best and strong advice is to seek medical attention quickly.

Let us know how you're doing.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 12:13PM
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i had a rose thorn at the base of my finger nail (pointer). the nail is dissappearing. like it is dissolving. there is no pain but soon i will not have a nail on this finger. will it grow back? should i be putting something on it?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 12:36PM
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