A quick look at a common nail condition you've never heard of

If you've ever had a hangnail, you know how irritating they are. Hangnails can be painful and getting rid of them is an exercise in trying to avoid an infection. Especially when you experience a snag or tear, the hangnail can attract bacteria and cause a localized irritation called paronychia.

What is paronychia?

Paronychia is inflammation of the skin around a finger or toenail and is usually due to a nail infection.  It results from trauma or irritation and is characterized by redness and swelling skin that is warm to the touch, and possibly pus that builds up under the skin.

When you develop paronychia, you may see a pus-filled abscess at the site of the hangnail or other broken skin. Left untreated, the nail may also grow in irregular patterns like ripples or bumps. It may also become discolored or even fall off.

What causes paronychia?

Bacteria are the most common cause of acute paronychia. They can enter your skin and induce paronychia through:

How is paronychia treated?

Home treatment

Some less severe cases of paronychia respond well to home treatment. Begin by soaking the impacted nail in warm water a few times a day, leaving them to soak for about 15 minutes per soak. This encourages the abscess to drain and the paronychia to start the restorative process.

Medical treatment

If you don't see any progress after soaking in warm water and vinegar for a few days, you may want to see a doctor. Some infections may need antibiotics, and sometimes cases of paronychia will need other procedures, like draining the abscess.

How do I prevent paronychia?

If you want to avoid this painful condition, you can follow a few straightforward guidelines:

Do you need help with paronychia or a similar condition? Reach out to City Derm, and our skilled physicians will get you back to normal in no time! Contact us today for your free consultation.  

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