Paronychia – Infection of the Nail Bed

What is it?
Paronychia is an infection of the nail and its nail bed. It typically occurs as a result of trauma to the nail or finger tip. Certain habits, such as nail biting or constant exposure to moist environments, can also cause this type of infection. The infection often starts as an area of redness and swelling. The swelling can then become larger and fluctuant if an abscess develops.

What is the natural history?
Very minor infections of the nail can settle with simple measures such as using warm soaks on the nail, particularly if an abscess or collection of pus has not developed. If an abscess has developed, it may burst on its own but it is likely medical and surgical management may be required.

What is the treatment?
Medical management includes a course of antibiotics, however, if the infection does not settle, an operation may be required to drain the infection.

© Fife Virtual Hand Clinic 2021

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