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Paronychia (Nail Infection) (cont.)

How Do Health Professionals Diagnose a Paronychia?

A doctor will examine the finger and decide how severe the infection is and what treatment is needed.

Are There Home Remedies for a Paronychia (Nail Infection)?

Care at home includes warm soaks in warm water or a mixture of 50% warm water and 50% liquid antibacterial soap three to four times daily for about 15 minutes. This soaking should be done at the first sign of redness around the nail.

What Is the Treatment for a Paronychia (Nail Infection)?

If an abscess (pus pocket) has formed, the recommended treatment is to drain the abscess by doing an incision and drainage procedure.

  • A doctor will most likely use a medicine (such as lidocaine) to numb the entire finger first and then will open the abscess using a surgical knife (scalpel).
  • Sometimes packing called a wick is placed in the abscess to allow it to continue to drain when one goes home and to keep it from closing up and reforming the abscess. The packing is usually left in for 24-48 hours.
  • In extreme cases, the infection can move under the fingernail and may need partial or complete nail removal. Antibiotics are usually not necessary unless there is extensive infection spreading onto the digit.
  • A doctor may or may not take a culture of the drainage to check for the type of bacteria involved in the infection.
  • After a doctor has drained the paronychia, warm soaks are still recommended. Usually, antibiotics are only prescribed if the infection involves more of the finger than around the nail bed. Sometimes a topic antibiotic, such as Bacitracin, is applied. It is important to follow up with your doctor in 24-48 hours to be sure that the infection is healing properly.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/11/2015

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Paronychia »

A paronychia is a superficial infection of epithelium lateral to the nail plate.

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