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Dactylitis – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Pictures

Written by Dr.Mary
IN THIS ARTICLE:

What is Dactylitis?

This disorder is also known or denoted as “sausage digit”. This is a disorder where the toes or fingers become inflamed. Tissue swelling also accompanies the inflammation. The name of “sausage digit” originates from the circumstance that the toes or fingers affected looks similar to sausages which are plump.


There are cases where the presence of some kind of dactylitis occurs as a symbol of another developing health problem. This problem can commonly be a sign of the start of ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, both being conditions which can create severe pain as well as impacting negatively the proper motion range of the feet or hands. Other types of dactylitis can be forerunners to the occurrence of sickle cell anemia.

Dactylitis Symptoms

The outer symptoms or signs of dactylitis may develop very quickly. Other symptoms of dactylitis include:

  • Swelling of feet and hands
  • Inflammation of feet and hands
  • Fever
  • Great tenderness on as well as near the fingers or toes affected

In very serious cases, people can be powerless to walk on the feet that are swollen, even when using of footwear which is thickly padded.

There are numerous diverse indicators of this problem. A common type of dactylitis attacks babies as young as 6 months of age. Referred to as sickle cell dactylitis, this inflammation is regularly one of the principal symptoms of sickle cell anemia. Due to the inflammation and swelling, this condition is often mistaken for other health problems, such as cellulitis or rheumatic fever.

There is another type referred to as blistering distal dactylitis and occurs when the fleshy pad of the distal part of the finger comes to be inflamed. Just as the sickle cell type, blistering dactylitis normally manifests in children, developing anywhere from the age of 6 months to up to 4 years. Since this inflammation occurs in the fat pad of the finger, it may make finger movement difficult as well as being painful.

Tuberculous dactylitis is another form of this disease that is not concentrated on the flesh of the toes or fingers. Rather, this type distresses the structure of bone of the hands and feet. This inflammation can be very painful and the discomfort is felt deeply in the short tubular bones instead of seeming to originate from the flesh.

Dactylitis Causes

The following causes of dactylitis are conditions or diseases which affect more than 1 million people in the USA and are considered common:

  • Psoriasis

The following diseases or conditions are causes of dactylitis which affect more than 200,000 individuals, but less than 1 million individuals in the USA are uncommon:

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  • Sickle cell anaemia
  • Sickle Cell Anemia – dactylitis
  • Sickle cell disease

The following causes of dactylitis appear in the population at a rate of less than 200,000 individuals per year in the USA and are considered very rare:

  • Leprosy
  • Reiter’s syndrome
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Treponema pallidum
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Tuberculosis

The following causes of dactylitis are health problems of which there is no information on prevalence:

  • Gonococcal arthritis
  • Leprosy
  • Juvenile chronic arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Mycobacterium marinum
  • Sarcoiditis

Dactylitis Treatment

For mild episodes treatment includes:

  • Drinking more fluids than normal such as water as well as juices
  • Taking Ibuprofen (Motrin) and/or acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain. Follow dosages on the bottles
  • If pain worsens, your physician can prescribe Tylenol with codeine. Ibuprofen can be taken along with Tylenol with codeine
  • Applying heat to swollen area

For more severe pain:

  • Go to the emergency room for treatment with IV fluids as well as pain medications
  • Possible admittance to the hospital until pain lessens

If the dactylitis is caused by sickle cell anemia and the individual develops any of the below symptoms, call the sickle cell nurse or doctor:

  • Pain which is not relieved by the medications taken at home
  • Swelling in areas other than the feet or hands
  • Fever of 101.5 F or greater.

For blistering dactylitis, an infection can occur caused by Group A, hemolytic streptococcus as well as staphylococcus aureus. The treatment for this type of distal dactylitis includes:

  • Incision and drainage
  • Warm compresses
  • Oral antibiotes

Basically the underlying disease which is causing the dactylitis needs to be treated.

Dactylitis Pictures

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