Paronychia is inflammation of the skin around a finger or toenail. It can be acute (< 6 weeks) or chronic (persisting > 6 weeks).
Acute paronychia: This usually appears as a sudden, very painful area of swelling, warmth and redness around a fingernail or toenail, usually after an injury to the area. An acute paronychia typically is caused by an infection with bacteria that invade the skin where it was injured. The injury can be caused by overaggressive manicuring (especially cutting or tearing the cuticle, which is the rim of paper-thin skin that outlines the outer margins of your nail). It can also result from biting the edges of the nails or the skin around the nails, picking at the skin near the nails or sucking on the fingers.
Chronic paronychia: This is an infection that usually develops slowly, causing gradual swelling, tenderness and redness of the skin around the nails. It usually is caused by Candida or other species of yeast (fungus). It often affects several fingers on the same hand. People who are more likely to get this infection include those with diabetes or workers whose jobs constantly expose their hands to water or chemical solvents. Such jobs include bartending, house cleaning, janitorial work, dentistry, nursing, food service, dishwashing and hairdressing.
Paronychia is common. It is from injury to the area, such as biting off or picking a hangnail or from trimming or pushing back the cuticle.
The infection is caused by:
- Candida, a type of yeast
- Other types of fungi
Diagnosis and Treatment
Paronychia will be diagnosed by your doctor. The treatment will be based on the severity of inflammation and infection and may include drainage, topical or oral medications.
Below you can watch one video draining a huge thumb abscess.