A common nail bed infection, paronychia can affect children and adults alike. If you’ve tried to treat this infection at home without success, perhaps it’s time to rely on the hand care experts at Comprehensive Hand Surgery Center in the West End of Richmond, Virginia, to free you of the infection for good. David Galpern, MD, specializes in hand and finger conditions, providing accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. To find out how he can help you, call the office or schedule a consultation online today.
Paronychia are nail bed infections that cause pain, redness, and swelling. The infections generally occur anywhere on the U-shaped cuticle where the skin of your finger covers the edge of your nail.
Paronychial infections are normally minor and made by fungus or bacteria. Bacterial infections can happen suddenly, while fungal infections can linger for months. If you have paronychia, you may also have a small abscess, a pus-filled pocket underneath your skin.
In rare cases, the infection penetrates deep into your finger, causing a potentially more serious condition that puts your finger at risk. Serious infections like this mainly occur in diabetics or people with poor circulation.
Paronychial infections are made possible by the structure of fingernails and cuticles. Small crevices where your cuticles attach to your nail bed provide an ideal place for bacteria or fungus to grow. Even after thoroughly washing your hands, some fungus or bacteria may hide in these crevices.
Paronychia are more common in people whose hands are often wet — even from repeated hand washing. That’s because your crevices are difficult to dry, and organisms grow more easily in moist conditions.
Paronychial infections generally include a few telltale signs around the base or sides of your nail. These symptoms include:
You might also have pus-filled pockets, and in chronic cases, your nail may become thick, hard, and deformed.
Diagnosing paronychial infections generally requires a quick examination by Dr. Galpern. You don’t need special tests, though if you have an abscess he may want to send a sample of the fluid to the lab for testing.
Paronychia are normally easy to treat with proper care. Depending on your condition, Dr. Galpern may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. If you have an abscess, he may want numb your finger and drain out the infected fluid.
In some situations, he may advise removing your nail to make sure all of the infection drains away. You’ll generally wear a bandage for less than a week and should have a completely new nail within three months.
To find out if your sore, tender nail is a sign of paronychia, call or schedule a consultation online today at Comprehensive Hand Surgery Center.