Paronychia is an infection on the edge of the fingernail or toenail. It is one of the most common forms of hand infection and if not properly treated, it can progress to a severe infection involving the entire finger or toe.
Paronychia is usually caused by a skin bacteria that enters the skin bordering the nail that has been impaired such as exposure to chemical-based irritants, finger sucking or even nail biting.
Even a fungal infection can also be a cause and must be considered among those who have recurrent infection.
What are the indications of paronychia?
Paronychia can start as swelling and redness around the affected nail. It is most often sore to the touch and even have yellowish-greenish color that indicates the build-up of pus beneath the skin.
The usual signs include the following:
- Build-up of pus
- Tenderness and pain to the touch
When to consult a doctor
A doctor should be consulted if the redness radiates beyond the skin surrounding the nail or to the finger pads. The redness indicates that infection is progressing a more serious condition with the formation of pus in the deeper tissues of the fingertip which is known as felon.
A doctor should be consulted if there is evident formation of an abscess. An abscess necessitates drainage by a doctor. This involves opening to drain out the pus.
At the initial sign of pus buildup, seek medical care for possible drainage. If the redness and swelling has spread down the finger or the individual could not move the joints of the affected finger, bring him/her to the nearest emergency department right away.
The care for paronychia involves soaking the affected finger in warm water or a mix of 50% warm water and liquid antibacterial soap at 3-4 times every day for around 15 minutes. The soaking must be done at the initial sign of redness around the nail.