The nail disease paronychia, is an often-tender bacterial or fungal hand infection or foot infection where the nail and skin meet at the side or the base of a finger or toenail. The infection can start suddenly (acute paronychia) or gradually (chronic paronychia).
Signs and Symptoms of Paronychia
The cuticle acts as a protective seal but if it is damaged in any way bacteria can enter the skin and cause infection. These infections can be extremely painful as the skin becomes inflamed, hot, and red and throbs continually.
Pus is usually present, along with gradual thickening and browning discoloration of the nail plate.
Treatment of Paronychia
Warm soaks can be used 3 or 4 times a day for acute paronychia to promote drainage and relieve some of the pain. Most cases of acute paronychia should be treated with antibiotics. If there is pus or an abscess involved, the infection may need to be incised and drained. Rarely, a portion of the nail may need to be removed.
Chronic paronychia is treated with topical antifungal medication such as ketoconazole cream. A mild topical steroid like hydrocortisone may be added to the antifungal medication to help reduce inflammation. Steroids should never be used alone on a chronic paronychia.