Paronychia is an infection of the skin around the nail of at least one finger or toe. It typically develops around the edges of the nail at the bottom or sides. This skin infection causes inflammation, swelling, and discomfort around the nail. Abscesses containing pus can also form.
Paronychia symptoms include:
a. swelling, tenderness, and redness around the nail
b. puss-filled abscesses
c. hardening of the nail
d. deformation or damage to the nail
e. the nail separating from the nailbed
Treatments for paronychia will vary, depending on the severity and whether it is chronic or acute.
A person with mild, acute paronychia can try soaking the affected finger or toe in warm water three to four times a day. If symptoms do not improve, seek further treatment.
When a bacterial infection causes acute paronychia, a doctor may recommend an antibiotic, such as dicloxacillin or clindamycin.
When a fungal infection causes chronic paronychia, a doctor will prescribe an antifungal medication. These medications are topical and typically include clotrimazole or ketoconazole. Chronic paronychia may require weeks or months of treatment. It is important to keep the hands dry and clean throughout. If a person’s job requires their hands to be wet or exposed to germs, they may need to take time off. A doctor may also need to drain any pus from surrounding abscesses. To do this, they will provide a local anesthetic, then open the nail fold enough to insert gauze, which will help drain the pus.