Paronychia is an infection that develops along the edge of the fingernail or toenail. It is a common infection of the hand and if this condition is not properly treated, it can result into a more severe infection of the whole finger or toe. There are 2 types of paronychia – acute and chronic.
- Acute usually happens suddenly. It is characterized by a severe painful area with swelling, warmth and redness around the fingernail or a toenail due to an injury to the area. It can be caused by an infection due to bacteria that penetrates the injured skin.
- Chronic is an infection which develops slowly and result to steady swelling, tenderness and reddening of the skin found around the nails. People with diabetes, exposing hands to water or chemical solvents, and jobs such as bartending, janitorial work, house cleaner, food service, dishwashing and hairdressing are susceptible to this condition.
Causes of paronychia
- Hangnails which can cause a minor infection to the next nails with paronychia. It causes the skin around the nails to become tender and swollen.
- Injury to the nail
- Nail-biting that causes the fingertips to become red, sore and bleeding It increases the risk of developing bacterial infections around the nail beds and in the mouth.
- Improper trimming and cutting of nails such as cutting the nails too short.
- Getting manicures or pedicures with bad hygiene practices and using unhygienic manicure instruments.
- Frequent washing of hands.
- Having hands and feet in water for prolonged periods of time
- Redness of the affected area
- Swelling around the fingernails or toenail
- Accumulation of pus
- Pain and tenderness when touched
- Soak the finger or toe in hot water mixed with 2 tablespoons of salt for a minimum of 15 minutes at 2-3 times every day to lessen the pain and the swelling of the area. It also eliminates pus from the blisters. Another alternative is to apply a hot water bag or a hot gel over the affected finger or toe nails to lessen the swelling.
- Soak the affected area or toe in equal mixture of water and antibacterial soap at least 3 times every day.
- Take the prescribed oral antibiotic to lessen the inflammation and the pain of the affected area. Cover the affected area with bandage to prevent further damage and worsen the condition.
- Elevate the affected finger or toe nail above the level of the heart.
- Apply an over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide to eliminate the infection. Apply directly on the affected area to eliminate the pus and make the infected area sterile.
- Wear rubber gloves when using chemicals or dish soaps when cleaning dishes to prevent the risk of nail infections.