BACKGROUND Hand infections are common surgical emergencies. There are still controversial opinions regarding the ideal timing of wound closure after radical débridement of the infection. The aim of this retrospective study was to compare the outcome of primary adaptive and secondary wound closures after operative débridement in patients with hand infections. METHODS We retrospectively analysed all infections of the hand treated operatively in our hospital in the years 2011 and 2012 with a follow-up of at least 6 months. We included 16 patients with primary adaptive wound closure (PWC) and 12 patients with secondary wound closure (SWC) in this study. The evaluated parameters were the need for re-operations, the length of hospital stay, the overall satisfaction with the treatment, the characteristics of the scar and the mobility of the hand. RESULTS No patient had to be re-operated after PWC or SWC, respectively. Patients in the PWC group were kept significantly shorter as inpatients in comparison to patients in the SWC group (3.0 days vs. 5.1 days; p=0.048). Overall patient satisfaction with the treatment and the scar was comparable for both groups, as was the re-establishment of the mobility of the treated hand to preoperative levels. CONCLUSION This study shows that wounds after radical débridement for infection of the hand can be closed primarily adaptive without disadvantages for the patient. The length of hospitalisation is significantly shorter if the wound is closed primarily adaptive, a fact that is important for patient comfort and the socio-economic system. Both, primary adaptive and secondary wound closures generally have good outcomes with possible advantages for primary adaptive wound closures concerning the characteristics of the scar.