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Home ::  Paronychia

Paronychia - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Alternate Names of Paronychia :: Nail Infection, Infected Skin Around the Nail

What is Paronychia ?

Paronychia refers to inflammation of the nail fold. It can be acute or chronic. Paroncyhia is mostly caused by staphylococcus bacteria or fungi.

Paronychia has two types :-

  • Acute paronychia :- Acute paronychia develops over a few hours when a nail fold becomes painful, red and swollen. Sometimes yellow pus appears under the cuticle. In some cases acute paronychia is accompanied by fever and painful glands under the arms.
  • Chronic paronychia :- Paronychia is a common infection of the skin around the fingernails (the nail folds). 'Acute paronychia' is the term used for short-lived episodes: 'chronic paronychia' is used if it lasts for more than 6 weeks. Often it grumbles on for months or even years. It may start in one nail fold but often spreads to several others. Each affected nail fold is swollen and lifted off the nail plate. It may be red and tender from time to time, and sometimes a little pus (white, yellow or green) can be expressed from under the cuticle. It mainly occurs in people who have constantly wet hands, such as dairy farmers, fishermen, bar tenders and housewives.

What are the causes of Paronychia ?

Paronychia is a fairly common superficial infection of the skin around the nail. It usually results from injury to the area from biting off or picking a hangnail, or from manipulating, trimming, or pushing back the cuticle. The infection can be caused by either bacteria or a fungus. A bacterial paronychia may follow an injury, such as a torn hangnail. A fungal paronychia results from growth of fungus or yeast.

Symptoms & Signs of Paronychia

Some of the common symptoms of Paronychia are :-

  • Swelling of the finger or the cuticle.
  • Redness of nail.
  • Change in the shape and color of the nail.

Treatment of Paronychia

Common treatment for Paronychia includes :-

  • In bacterial paronychia, hot water soaks 2 or 3 times per day reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Apply antiseptics or antifungal lotions regularly twice daily to the nail fold - suitable preparations include sulphacetamide, thymol, miconazole, ciclopirox.
  • Wash thoroughly after dirty work with soap and water, rinse off and dry carefully.
  • Apply an anti-yeast cream or lotion to the inflamed areas several times a day. Sometimes a steroid in the preparation speeds up a cure.
  • Leave hangnails alone. Carefully trim your nails, but avoid cutting them too short.
  • If the nail has been bandaged, keep the bandage dry until it is changed for the first time. Then start soaking the nail before applying each new bandage.

Is paronychia hereditary?

No, paronychia is not hereditary

Paronychia Prevention
  • To prevent paronychia, care for the nails and the skin around the nails properly.
  • Avoid biting your nails and manicuring your nail folds.
  • You should keep your hands as warm and dry as possible: you will not get better until you do this. The use of waterproof gloves, always with cotton gloves inside, cuts down contact with detergents and water.
  • Protect the nails from exposure to detergents and chemicals by using protective rubber or plastic gloves, preferably with cotton liners.

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