Paronychia involves inflammation or infection of the nail bed. The base of the nail might turn warm, red, swollen and painful. The swelling can intensify as the pus builds up below the skin. This typically occurs once the cuticle or nail bed is damaged and bacteria enters such as getting a manicure or picking on a hangnail.
The infection often subsides with minimal or no treatment. Nevertheless, in some cases, it can damage the nail bed which causes the nail to loosen up and result to infections that has the potential to spread.
What to do?
If there is no pus or evident swelling, the treatment is relatively easy and warm soaks are often utilized. The soaks are often utilized 3-4 times in a day but its effectiveness is still being questioned. In case the infection persists or becomes severe, an antibiotic might be given. The antibiotic might be a type of penicillin that deals with staph infections.
In some cases, Augmentin is often utilized but due to the increasing risk for MRSA, the drugs used to treat MRSA are often used.
If there is pus beneath the skin, it should be drained. This can occur spontaneously or with help. In case the infection persists, the doctor might utilize a needle or blade to drain the pus or abscess that accumulated. It is vital to avoid trauma to the infected area. It simply means that the fingers should be covered especially among children who suck on their fingers.
Chronic cases of paronychia are treated in a different manner since it is often triggered by bacterial infections. The first is to avoid the trauma responsible for it or water exposure that led to it. In some cases, the doctor might provide medications to minimize the inflammation, deal with the infection or even recommend surgical treatment. A chronic infection can cause the cuticle or nail bed to separate from the nail base. The separation often leaves an opening that allows the entry of bacteria which results to a secondary issue as a new infection develops.
Who are at risk?
An abrupt case of paronychia is often due to sudden trauma to the nail bed. This can due to a manicure or from nail biting or sucking on fingers. In addition, it can be due to working with the hands or tools.
The chronic cases can be due to repeated injuries or water exposure as well as various forms of infections. Those who wash dishes or swim might also be at risk.
What causes paronychia?
Paronychia is usually due to a bacteria particularly strep or staph. In some cases, it can also be due to pseudomonas or even candida or mycobacterial infections in chronic cases. In rare cases, something serious might be mistaken as paronychia but it is very uncommon.