Thorn pricks

It’s common to get pricked by a thorn while working in the garden, plucking flowers, fruits or vegetables.

Better not ignore a thorn prick. You need to be watchful. A simple thorn prick may lead to serious medical emergencies like cellulitis, abscess formation, lymphangitis, synovitis or even sepsis or shock like condition.

Earliest treatment is essential.

If you observe any of the following symptoms, medical intervention may be needed.


Signs To Look For

  • Pain or redness at the site of prick
  • Swelling of the finger or part of the body that has got pricked
  • A deep prick that has resulted in substantial bleeding
  • If a part of the plant has got trapped into the skin during the prick
  • Fever, Chills
  • Throbbing pain in the pricked finger
  • Feeling weak or nauseated sometime after the prick
  • Weakness in any part of the body sometime after the prick
  • Yellow discharge from the injured site

Can a Prick Be Poisonous?

Yes, rarely though, a few pricks are poisonous. They may inject chemical potent enough to paralyze your muscles or affect the brain tissue .

Common pricks

  • Prick from a rose thorn or any other flower like bouganvillea, that comes with thorn
  • Touching a cactus and getting pricked
  • Pricked by Sporothix, a fungus usually grown over roses, moses etc and commonly seen

Sporothrix

This fungus may exist over roses shrub grown in your garden. It is also present over moses, and may be inhaled from it.

If you get prick by a rose infected by this fungus, the fungus may get injected into your body at the site of puncture. After entering the body, the fungal spores grow and replicate to spread quickly into the body tissues.

They infect the puncture site, where you may see pus. As they spread via lymphatic channels, it’s common to see swollen lymph nodes of the near by areas.

If left untreated, the whole lymphatic channel gets infected, a serious condition called lymphangitis, where you have fever with chills, loss of appetite. Lymph is in touch with every vital organ of the body, including the brain. The fungus gets a chance to affect your brain.

Prick from this fungus is sometimes rightly called a prick of death.

Cellulitis

Why Does It Occur?

Occurs due to a break in the skin integrity, that allows bacteria lying over it to get into the underlying tissue.

Cellulitis occurs when the infection reaches into the deeper subcutaneous tissues spaces.

Signs

  • The area of skin affected is warm, red and slightly swollen.
  • It is usually painful.
  • Cellulitis is often accompanied by lymphatic tissue involvement. You may see a red streak going up from the affected limb.
  • Else, nearby lymph nodes may be seen swollen.

Management

  • There may be a broken part of the thorn in the punctured wound. First of all, we need to remove this.
  • Stretch the affected skin area gently and apply an adhesive tape or a simple cello tape over it . Tiny portions of the broken thorn are likely to get stuck to it.
  • Self examine the wound under a hand lens. If you still notice any broken thorn part of any other foreign body inside, wash the affected area under cool water.
  • This may wash it away. If it’s still there, you need sterilized needle to tweezers to carefully remove it.
  • Next comes controlling bleeding. If the site bleeds, it’s advisable to let it bleed a bit. This is beneficial as it washes away any foreign object or infecting germs that have been trying to enter the prick site.
  • Excess bleeding may be stopped by directly applying pressure over the site or injury.
  • Next, apply an antibiotic ointment over the prick site liberally.  This is to arrest infection. You may bandage it, if the injury is big.
  • It’s not advisable to use hydrogen peroxide or betadiene for cleaning, as these chemicals delay healing.
  • Watch the site of prick. If you notice any alarming sign, rush to the emergency at the earliest to avoid emergencies.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “Swollen Finger By Thorn Prick

  1. Mona

    I got a thorn in my middle finger knuckle on the side. It bled a lot, after I took the thorn out, then the knuckle turned blue and swelled. The swelling went way down but is still swelled a bit and is back to a normal skin color. Should I be concerned? I washed it with soap and water.

    Reply
  2. RSG

    Two weeks after thorn prick finger still red and swollen. No evidence of lymph gland problem.
    I soak sometimes and it seems to help, but skin has healed over.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Better to start applying an antibiotic ointment over the injury area. You may use mupirocin/ bactroban.

      Do update us about its status

      Reply
  3. Uni

    My thumb was pricked by some thorn that was in my hair and my thumb is very swollen and it hurts to move it at all. There is no visible puncture (the thorn was very small and was kind of sticky) but my thumb still hurts even after 30 minutes of being pricked. I have had cellulitis before two years ago but not on my hand.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Try soaking the affected thumb in salted luke warm water for around 3 to 4 minutes. You may do this 3 to 4 times a day.

      If there’s no improvements, or if you get fever, throbbing pain, antibiotics need to be started ant the earliest.

      Reply
  4. Terri Wade

    I have a rose thorn prick the top of my hand at the knuckle. It was small. Hardly bled and was easily removed. I washed my hands and went about my day. The next morning the entire back of my hand had swelled amd was red. I wasnt able to make a first and had a burning achy pain. Applied antibacterial cream and iced it often. Monday it’s still swollen and tender. It feels much like a bruise and the joints in my finger ache. The puncture site is tiny however a little red. I have never had this happen before when pricked by a thorn.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Keep applying the antibacterial cream. If you observe no reduction in swelling or pain, you may need to take oral antibiotics. This may be Cellulitis.

      Reply
  5. Evan Weiss

    Having trouble finding information on cactus punctures. Was repotting a cactus yesterday and got a small prick on my index finger knuckle on my right hand. Washed it immediately . Small red mark. Woke up to joint pain in my entire index finger today. Not really swollen but a little red.

    That said I’m a little concerned as I have never experienced anything quite like this before. Have had Cellulitis once and it doesn’t really feel like that especially with the lack of swelling. Any preventative measure I can take besides keeping it clean?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Well, you may start applying an antibiotic ointment, like mupirocin/ bactroban, over the area thrice daily, as a precaution.

      Make sure, there’s no foreign material, like a piece of thorn, in there.

      Reply
  6. holly

    I had poked myself with those cinnamon scented pinecones about 2 days ago now my thumb is swollen and turning a dark purple around the wound which is pretty much a paper cut. should I be concerned and what do I do?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      To be on safe side, start applying an antibiotic ointment (mupirocin/ bacitracin) over it thrice daily. Watch for any pus surfacing over the area. If you see any, it may need a drainage.

      If the swelling/ pain or stiffness over the area increase, you may need to see a doctor.

      Reply
  7. Amanda

    i was outside and got poked by a little thorn with a white topping, i’m not sure where it came from but it hurt while it was in my finger and a little red dot appeared, then turned white around it. It started to swell up and became numb, it’s been 2 hours and the numbness and swelling is still there. My finger has a throbbing feeling to it aswel

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Drain well from the injury site with a little squeezing and washing under ample water. This would assure that there’s no foreign body inside.

      You may then start applying mupirocin/ bactroban ointment over the injury site, thrice daily .It should start improving with in a day or two.

      If not, or you see a growth in pain/ swelling, you’ll need oral antibiotics.

      Reply
  8. Mike Briggs

    Clearing brush, briars, etc.9 days ago. Left pointer finger apparently got stuck between middle knuckle and hand knuckle. I felt puncture, saw blood through glove, removed glove and area was swollen, blue, around wound. That night applied ice and antibiotic cream. Finger has remained sore around wound area and middle knuckle and painful to bend. Still swollen some. Kept me awake last night

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Are you able to move your finger around all finger joints?

      Keep applying the antibiotic cream thrice daily.

      Reply

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