Paronychia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Paronychia is a skin infection surrounding the nails and toenials. Bacteria or a kind of yeast known as Candida usually cause this infection. Bacteria and yeasts can even combine to create a single infection.

According to the source of the infection, paronychia may arrive slowly and last for weeks or suddenly appear and last only 1-2 days. Symptoms of paronychia can be easily identified and can generally be treated easily and successfully with little or no harm to the skin and nails. Your infection may become severe and even cause partial or total loss of your fingernail if left untreated.

Acute and chronic paronychia

Paronychia may be acute or chronic according to the speed of onset, duration and infectious agents. (1)

Acute paronychia

Acute infection usually occurs around the nails and develops rapidly. This is usually the result of skin damage around the fingernails from biting, picking, hanging, manicures or other physical injuries. Staphylococcus and enterococcus are common infectious agents for acute paronychial disease.

Chronic paronychia

Chronic paronychia may happen on your fingers or toes, and it arrives slowly. It lasts a few weeks and it comes back many times. It is usually caused by more than one infectious agent, frequently Candida yeast and bacteria. This is most common for people who work permanently in the water. Chronic moist skin and excessive soaking disturb the cuticle’s natural barrier. This enables yeasts and bacteria to develop and get under the skin to cause infection.

Symptoms of paronychia

Acute and chronic paronychia have very similar symptoms. They differ widely from one another in the rate of onset and length of infection. Chronic infections develop slowly and take several weeks to develop. Acute infections develop rapidly and do not persist for long. Both infections may have these symptoms:

  • redness in the skin around the fingernail.
  • tenderness of the skin around your nail
  • pus-filled blisters
  • changes within the nail shape, color, or texture
  • detachment of your nail

Causes of paronychia

Several causes of acute and chronic paronychia exist. The underlying cause for everyone is the bacteria, Candida yeast, or a combination of both agents.

Acute paronychia

A bacterial agent that is introduced to the area around your fingernail through a certain type of trauma usually causes an acute infection. It may be from biting or picking up your nails or hanging nails, to be perforated by manicure tools, pushing your cuticles too aggressively, along with other similar types of injuries.

Chronic paronychia

The underlying agent of infection in chronic paronychia is usually Candida yeast, but it may also be bacteria. Because yeasts grow well in humid conditions, This disease is often caused by having feet or hands in the water too often. There is also the role of chronic inflammation.

How paronychia is diagnosed

In most cases, a physician can diagnose paronychia just by looking at it.

Your physician can send a pus sample of your infection to a laboratory if the treatment does not seem to be helpful. This will determine the correct infectious agent and enable your physician to prescribe the best treatment.

How paronychia is treated

Home-based treatments are frequently very effective in treating mild cases. If you have an accumulation of pus under the skin, you can soak the infected area in hot water several times daily and dry it completely afterwards. Soaking will encourage the area to self-emptying.

Your physician may prescribe an antibiotic if the infection is more serious or does not respond to home treatments.

You may also require fluid-drained blisters or abscesses to relieve discomfort and accelerate recovery. This must be done by your physician to prevent the spread of infection. During emptying, your physician can also collect a sample of pus from the wound to determine what causes the infection and how best to treat it.

Chronic paronychia is a more difficult treatment. You will need to consult with your doctor as home treatment is unlikely to be effective. Your physician will likely prescribe an antifungal and recommend that you keep the area dry. In serious cases, surgery may be required to remove a portion of your nail. Other topical treatments which block inflammation can be used as well.

How paronychia can be prevented

Good sanitation is important for the prevention of paronychia. Keep your hands and feet clean to prevent bacteria from reaching your fingernails and skin. Avoiding injuries from stings, picking, manicures or pedicures may also help you prevent acute infections.

Prevent chronic infection by avoiding excessive exposure to water and wet environments and Keep fingers and feet as dry as possible.

Long term outlook

Prospects are good when you have a benign case of acute paronychia. You can deal with it successfully, and it’s unlikely that it will come back. If you let him go without treatment for too long, chances are good if you get medical treatment.

It is probable that the chronic infection lasts weeks or months. This can often be more challenging to deal with. For this reason, early treatment is important.

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