Symptoms and Signs of Nail Bed Infection (Paronychia)

Doctor's Notes on Nail Infection (Paronychia)

Paronychia is an inflammation of the folds of tissue surrounding the nail most commonly due to infection. The infection is usually bacterial (most commonly, staph or strep) but may be due to fungi. The infection may be acute (coming on suddenly) or may build up over time (chronic). A skin injury, including sucking or biting the fingers, is a common way for an infection of the fingernail area to begin.

Redness, pain or tenderness, and swelling around the base of the nail are the most common symptoms of paronychia. The redness and swelling may spread to involve the surrounding area of soft tissue. Chronic paronychia may be associated with other symptoms including breakdown of the cuticle, separation of the nail from the underlying skin, and thickening, deformation, or hardening of the nail.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.