Why Are My Fingers Swollen? Top 10 Swollen Finger Causes

Understand your swollen fingers symptoms, including 8 causes & treatment options for your swollen fingers.

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  1. 8 Possible Swollen Fingers Causes
  2. Real-Life Stories
  3. FAQs
  4. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  5. Statistics
  6. Related Articles

8 Possible Swollen Fingers Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced swollen fingers. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Non-serious finger injury

Finger injuries are very common & rarely need medical treatment.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: recent finger injury, finger pain from an injury, swollen finger, severe finger pain

Symptoms that always occur with non-serious finger injury: recent finger injury

Symptoms that never occur with non-serious finger injury: bent or crooked finger

Urgency: Self-treatment

Dislocated finger

A dislocated finger is the result of one of the bones in the finger being pulled apart or sideways out of alignment. Finger dislocations usually occur when the finger is bent too far backward. Although a common injury, finger dislocations that are not treated properly can result in chr...

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Nail infection (paronychia)

Paronychia is an infection of the skin of the fingers or toes, at the place where the skin folds down to meet the nail.

Acute, or sudden onset, paronychia is caused by the staphylococcus bacteria. The organism can gain entry if the nail is cracked, broken, bitten, or trimmed too closely.

Chronic, or ongoing, paronychia is caused by a fungus. Anyone whose work requires their hands to be wet much of the time is susceptible.

People with diabetes or a weakened immune system are more susceptible to nail infections.

Symptoms include sore, reddened, swollen skin around the nail, sometimes with pus collecting under the skin.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes skin culture to identify the organism involved.

Treatment for acute paronychia involves having a medical provider clean the wounded nail and drain any infection, and sometimes provide a course of antibiotics.

Treatment for the chronic form involves keeping the skin dry and using an antifungal medication on the affected nail.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: spontaneous finger pain, fingernail pain, fingernail swelling

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit


Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deep layers of the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body but is most common on the feet, lower legs, and face.

The condition can develop if Staphylococcus bacteria enter broken skin through a cut, scrape, or existing skin infection such as impetigo or eczema.

Most susceptible are those with a weakened immune system, as from corticosteroids or chemotherapy, or with impaired circulation from diabetes or any vascular disease.

Symptoms arise somewhat gradually and include sore, reddened skin.

If not treated, the infection can become severe, form pus, and destroy the tissue around it. In rare cases, the infection can cause blood poisoning or meningitis.

Symptom of severe pain, fever, cold sweats, and fast heartbeat should be seen immediately by a medical provider.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

Treatment consists of antibiotics, keeping the wound clean, and sometimes surgery to remove any dead tissue. Cellulitis often recurs, so it is important to treat any underlying conditions and improve the immune system with rest and good nutrition.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fever, chills, facial redness, swollen face, face pain

Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis: facial redness, area of skin redness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

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Dupuytren disease

Dupuytren Disease, also known as Dupuytren's contracture, is a condition that gradually causes connective tissue (fascia) under the skin of the palm to thicken and become scar-like. Although Dupuytren's isn't painful, it does restrict movement. The thickened tissue forces several fingers - usually the ring and pinky fingers - to curl in toward the palm.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: finger joint stiffness, hand bump, thickened skin on the finger, swollen hands, hand injury

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a condition which causes inflammation of the joints. In most circumstances, psoriatic arthritis presents between the ages of 30 and 50 years and occurs after the manifestation of the symptoms of psoriasis, which is a disease of the skin. Psoriatic arthritis...

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Rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis is a general term for multiple conditions that cause painful inflammation and stiffness throughout the body. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that is autoimmune in nature, meaning that the body's immune system which normally protects the body by att...

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Boxer's fracture

Boxer's fracture is a term for a fracture of one of fingers and generally occurs after a closed fist makes contact with a hard object.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: finger pain, swollen finger, finger bruise, punched a hard object

Symptoms that always occur with boxer's fracture: finger pain, swollen finger, punched a hard object

Urgency: In-person visit

Real-life Stories

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FAQs About Swollen Fingers

Here are some frequently asked questions about swollen fingers.

Can exercise cause my fingers to swell?

Yes, exercise can cause your fingers to swell. When you exercise, your heart significantly increases the amount of blood it pumps in order to get enough oxygen to your muscles. This is accompanied by dilation of the blood vessels in your arms and legs, which helps increase blood flow to these muscles and cool the body. This increased blood flow can lead to swelling as some water leaves the blood to the tissues in the fingers.

Which foods make your fingers swell?

Classically, salty foods are responsible for finger swelling. When you eat a lot of salt, your body retains more water than it otherwise would in order to keep its salt concentration within normal range. This can lead to bloating in the hands and feet, which you may experience as finger swelling.

Why do my fingers swell at night?

Your fingers may swell at night for a few reasons. Many of us indulge in heavy salt-laden dinners right before bed, which can lead to finger swelling. Alternatively, you may be sleeping in a position that leads to hand and finger swelling. Overuse of your hands at work may lead to swelling that worsens throughout the day, which you only notice once work is finished by night time. Finally, you may also get finger swelling from arthritis as a result of the accumulated trauma of a day of work or autoimmune inflammation.

Why are my fingers swelling for no reason?

While the reason for your finger swelling may not be clear, one certainly exists. Most finger swelling is relatively benign when a cause is not immediately apparent. Some reasons your fingers may swell include heavy salt consumption, exercise, high temperatures, arthritis, overuse, or injury. Rarely, finger swelling is a sign of heart, liver or kidney failure, but these are chronic conditions accompanied by other symptoms and swelling that is worse in the legs.

Do STDs cause swollen fingers?

STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are not a common cause of swollen fingers. In rare cases, gonorrhea can spread to other sites in the body, including large and small joints. Most commonly, this involves joints such as the knees, wrists, and ankles, rather than those of the fingers. It is possible, as well, to get skin lesions such as herpes on the fingers which cause swelling.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swollen Fingers

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with cancer?
  • Do you have these contractures that limit the movement of your fingers? (See picture)
  • Do any of your body parts (e.g., toes, hands, ears) feel cold?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

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Swollen Fingers Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced swollen fingers have also experienced:

  • 30% Finger Pain
  • 4% Pain In The Middle Knuckle Of The Finger
  • 4% Joint Stiffness

People who have experienced swollen fingers were most often matched with:

  • 62% Dislocated Finger
  • 25% Nail Infection (Paronychia)
  • 12% Non-Serious Finger Injury

People who have experienced swollen fingers had symptoms persist for:

  • 37% Less than a day
  • 35% Less than a week
  • 13% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Swollen Fingers Symptom Checker

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