Nail Paronychia

What is Nail Paronychia?

Nail Paronychia is the inflammation or infection of the skin surrounding a nail. This could affect both fingernails as well as toenails. Diagnosing and treating it on time is extremely important to ensure that it does not spread to other parts of the body. Nail paronychia is caused by bacteria known as staphylococci bacteria[1].

The bacteria find its way into the skin through a cut or bruise and can cause this infection. However, not all paronychia is caused by bacteria. Sometimes this could be a fungal infection too. People who are prone to infections are more likely to be affected by this.

Types of Nail Paronychia

1. Acute Nail Paronychia

This generally starts as a redness or painful spot around the nail which could be the result of an injury. Sometimes, improper cutting of the nail cuticles could also be a reason. This is a bacterial infection[2].

2. Chronic Nail Paronychia

This is more of a fungal infection and can affect more than one nail at the same time. People whose hands are exposed to hard chemicals for the major part of the day are more prone to this type of paronychia. The symptoms include tenderness of the skin, redness and swelling the increases gradually.

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Home Remedy for Nail Paronychia

There is no need to rush to a doctor as soon as you cite the aforesaid symptoms. You can wait for a couple of days and try soaking the affected nail in warm water. Do this for at least 15 minutes and repeat the procedure, every two to three hours. However, if the symptoms do not subside even after a day or two, you might have to seek medical help[3].

Cases in which Immediate Attention is required

Though it is okay to wait for the infection to subside by itself, medical intervention would be required in the following cases.

  • If you are diabetic[4]
  • Pus accumulation in the affected area
  • Fever
  • Redness and swelling spreading to other parts of the finger
  • The symptoms persist for more than a week

Medical Treatment for Nail Paronychia

When all else fails, consulting the doctor is the best choice. Based on the type of paronychia you have, the doctor would prescribe an appropriate course of medication.

Acute Nail Paronychia

Since this is a bacterial infection, the doctor is more likely to prescribe some antibiotics. He may also recommend that you soak the affected areas in warm water. In case of pus formation, the doctor may drain out the pus to quicken up the healing process. This is more likely to heal within 10 days.

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Chronic Paronychia

If you have chronic paronychia, the doctor will prescribe an antifungal ointment that needs to be applied to the affected nail. You may be asked to follow this course for quite some time. This being a fungal infection, you would be expected to keep the area clean and dry.

Preventing Nail Paronychia

Nail paronychia can be quite painful and the healing process is slow. It is always better to try and prevent it. Make sure that your hands and feet are clean and dry always. In case, you are working with harsh chemicals, protect your nails by wearing rubber gloves. Drop the habit of biting nails or picking the skin around the nails. Treat your nails gently during manicures and pay special attention to the cuticles.

So, watch out for any signs of nail paronychia[5] and seek medical help as soon as possible. This is the best way to prevent the problem from aggravating and getting more serious.