Paronychia: Two Causes And First Aid Advice For Nail Infections


Table of Contents

What Is Paronychia

Paronychia is a common skin infection just next to the fingernails or toes. It may be acute or chronic; treatment usually involves antibiotic medicines for bacterial infections.

Occasionally, antifungal medication for infection caused by candida or a fungus are used.

In some cases, steroidal creams may be needed for the skin around the nail.

Occasionally, a small operation is needed to drain any accumulated pus.

What Is The Main Cause Of Paronychia

Germs in the form of bacteria.

Germs tend to cause sudden-onset acute paronychia, a painful but localised condition. A bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus, which lives harmlessly on our skin, is most often the cause of paronychia.

Candida. This is a yeast fungus and is another common cause. Paronychia with candida tends to develop slowly and cause persistent, often chronic, infection. They do not cause pus to appear.

Microbes. These include viruses and fungi that are less common and often result after damage to the nail bed or surrounding quick tissue.

Quick Verses Nail Bed

As nouns, the difference between quick and nail bed is that the quick is raw or sensitive flesh attributed to surrounding the nail on the top and sides. While the nail bed is anatomically defined as the area underneath a nail that holds the nail in place while it grows.

Why Does Paronychia Develop

Paronychia can occur for no apparent reason but is frequently due to the quick area being damaged, drying out, or splitting to allow germs and bacteria in. However, the following can increase the risk of bacteria and other germ pathogens causing infection.

Water Submersion

You are more likely to develop paronychia if your hands are in water regularly or for long periods, particularly with detergents. Some jobs involve having wet hands for long periods. Constant washing may damage the nail fold and allow infection to develop. The following are examples of people who might be more prone to paronychia due to their job:

  • Cleaners
  • Bartenders
  • Fishermen
  • Beauticians
  • Dishwashers
  • Dairy farmers
  • Dentists
  • Doctors
  • Pool cleaners

Nail Bed Injuries

A break in the skin allows the germs that live harmlessly on the skin to get inside where they do not belong and where they no longer remain harmless.

  • Nail biting
  • Quick picking
  • Splinters
  • Poor manicure technique
  • Pushing the cuticles back too far with a hard instrument
  • Damaged or diseased from skin conditions such as eczema or contact dermatitis
  • Ingrown toenails – the nail grows into the skin of the toe.

Hand And Nail Coverings

  • The use of gloves for long periods causes the hands to sweat
  • Artificial and acrylic nails can cause a moist, airless condition around your fingernails

 What Is The Best Treatment For Paronychia


If bacteria cause the infection, your physician may prescribe an oral antibiotic. Antibiotics commonly used for paronychia include flucloxacillin or erythromycin. In a minor infection, an antibiotic cream may be all that is needed, like fusidic acid cream.

If the antibiotic prescribed is not improving your paronychia after a few days, you should return to your doctor for a pathology swab of the infected area to determine the specific bacteria type causing your symptoms. They may also change the antibiotic initially scripted to a different one.

Draining The Pus

If the area has become infected or a significant amount of pus has collected, your finger or toe will be red, painful to touch, and very swollen. In this case, the pus will need to be drained. A small lance is made into the pus sac that allows the pus to drain freely before being washed and then sterilised and covered to prevent further infection.

Warm Bath And Analgesia 

Salt baths can be a reliable natural alternative in some cases. Bathing the wound area in salted warm water four times a day for ten minutes and drying completely may kill off the pathogen causing the issue. Painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, can be taken to ease any pain.,usually%20cause%20serious%20health%20problems.

What Is The Treatment For Paronychia Lasting More Than Six Weeks

The problem is called chronic paronychia if it has dragged on for six weeks. Chronic means persisting. In chronic cases, there may be an underlying skin condition.

Treatment options include:


  • Do not bite nails
  • Keeping the hands dry
  • Avoiding skin irritants like soaps and detergents.
  • Avoiding injury
  • Avoid manicures in salons


  • A small surgical procedure called a wedge resection
  • Wearing comfortable well-fitted shoes that avoid placing the toes under pressure
  • Treating any underlying skin condition or foot fungus
  • Avoid pedicures in salons
  • Steroid creams, such as hydrocortisone or betamethasone
  • Antifungal creams such as clotrimazole, miconazole or terbinafine
  • Antifungal tablets such as terbinafine or itraconazole

Soak the affected foot or hand 3 to 4 times daily for 20 minutes in an antiseptic solution of warm water and chlorhexidine, povidone-iodine, or potassium permanganate.’s%20foot.,might%20prescribe%20a%20stronger%20solution.

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