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Paronychia or nail fold infection is infection of the skin area just near the nail or at the ‘nail fold’. The appearance of paronychia is such that the infected nail fold becomes swollen, sore, tender and inflamed. The swelling can be caused due to the accumulation of pus. The nail also can become infected and damaged if Paronychia is not treated.

Paronychia causes

Paronychia is caused due to the following factors

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  • Candida fungus- The yeast fungus or Candida can cause nail fold infection, developing slowly and finally causing persistent infection. However pus is not formed in this type of paronychia
  • Bacteria- This can trigger sporadic infection in and around the nail fold that can be painful too
  • Germs- Certain types of other fungi and viruses can also cause nail-fold infection
    Paronychia can develop without any apparent reason. However the risk factors that can trigger bacteria and fungus can be water, wearing covering and injury 

  • Water- Nail-fold infection is possible if your hands are in water for a prolonged period. For instance, if you keep your hands in detergent soaked water, handle cosmetics more often, do a lot of cleaning work; the nail fold can become infected. For this reason, paronychia is more common in housewives, beauticians, dishwashers, beauticians, bartenders etc. Constant washing can weaken the nail fold, leading to infection.
  • Covering- This means wearing gloves for a long period of time, wearing artificial nails, using chemical infested nail polish etc. This makes the region around the fingernails moist and do not allow fresh air to the area. This can cause germs to infest the area and cause infection.
  • Injury- Damage to the nail and nail folds due to an injury, poor manicure, poor hygiene and nail biting can also cause paronychia.

Paronychia treatment

Paronychia can be caused due to fungus as well as bacteria. Let us see how we can treat nail-fold infections.

Bacterial infections

If the nail fold infection or paronychia is caused due to bacteria, then an antibiotic for 7 days can work. A small cut may be done to drain away the pus caused due to bacterial infection, if it collects near the nail area. Pain killers like ibuprofen and paracetamol can also work to alleviate the pain.

A home remedy to treat nail fold infection is to soak the finger in warm, salted water for four or five times a day. If the doctor prescribed antibiotic does not work, then your doctor may give you another antibiotic or take a swab of the infected nail fold to find out the actual bacteria that is causing paronychia.

Fungal infections

Fungal infections and Candida can be treated with antifungal creams. The treatment is need for about 2 to 6 months before the infection clears out and a new healthy nail grows in the place of the worn out one. Antifungal tablets and antifungal nail paint may be needed as well, if the infection moves to the nail area apart from the nail fold.

Prevention of paronychia or nail-fold infection

  1. Keep your hands and feet dry as possible. If you have to work in water a lot, make sure you pat dry them well after the washing work is done
  2. Do not bite your nails or pick the skin area close to the nails
  3. Wear cotton lined rubber gloves in case you have to work with water for a prolonged period of time
  4. Stay away from synthetic gloves and artificial nails.

Paronychia pictures

Paronychia photos of infected nail fold shows how fungus or bacteria can cause deteriorate the condition of the skin near the nail


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