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The term seal finger is used to describe a painful infection of the fingers
following the handling of seals or seal skins. This condition is also known as
Sealer's finger, blubber-finger and spekk-finger
The cause is thought to be a
mycoplasma. Infection is thought to enter the finger through a break in the
surface of the skin, such as a small cut.
The signs of seal finger are an extremely painful
cellulitis involving the finger which occurs within a few days of handling seals
or seal skins. The finger swells, becomes taut and shiny in appearance, and the
tissue becomes soft.
Severe disability of the affected digit may result. Also,
the infection may recur once a patient is infected.
Diagnosis is based upon the
clinical signs and history. Isolation of mycoplasma may be possible from the
In the past amputation of the affected finger was
performed. However, nowadays there are reports that antibiotic treatment with
the following has been successful :
The infection is usually
localised to the site of initial entry. Prognosis for the patient is good.
Updated October 2013