Swelling is often a sign of an injury, such as torn or sprained ligaments in your finger. A hand injury may occur when you attempt to break your fall when slipping. You may also sustain an injury through a sharp blow or by wrenching your hand while working. Athletes such as volleyball or football players may suffer injuries while participating in sports. If no bones are broken, the swelling will often be relieved by ice application, resting the affected area, and using over-the-counter pain medications.
Your fingers are susceptible to infections caused by fungal, bacterial, or viral agents. Paronychia is a bacterial infection of the area surrounding the fingernail. As your immune system rushes to fight off the infection, the area surrounding the nail can become painful, red, and swollen. Meanwhile, herpetic whitlow is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. An infection of this kind appears as small, red, pus-filled blisters that form on the finger and cause burning and tingling. A third type of finger infection, the felon, refers to a deep, painful wound on the fleshy side of the fingertip.
Lymphedema refers to the swelling that occurs when the lymphatic system becomes damaged or blocked. When this happens, your lymph nodes are unable to efficiently clear lymph (fluid containing white blood cells) from your tissues. Medline Plus lists infection, cancer, scar tissue from radiation, and the absence of lymph nodes due to surgery as causes of lymphedema. LympheDIVAs, a company started by two breast cancer survivors, offers trendy-looking compression gloves and sleeves to help treat the effects of lymphedema on the hands. Other forms of treatment include exercise, massage therapy, and medications.