Acute paronychia develops along a break in the skin and is usually seen at the side of the nail. This type of nail infection is often caused by a bacterial infection but may also be caused by herpes, a type of viral infection.
Chronic paronychia occurs most often in people whose hands are constantly or often exposed to moisture. This disorder often results from contact dermatitis, a type of skin inflammation caused by exposure to chemicals that are irritating to the skin. People with chronic paronychia may have periodic, painful flare-ups. This type of nail infection may be complicated by the addition of a fungal infection, commonly due to a type of yeast called Candida, or bacterial infection, and this may lead to abnormal nail growth.
Chronic paronychia is most common in adult women and those who work in places where their hands are kept moist, such as food handlers.
- Acute: The proximal nail fold is red, swollen, painful, and may contain pus. Usually one nail is affected.
- Chronic: The proximal nail fold is swollen, red, and has no cuticle (the strip of hardened skin at the base and sides of a fingernail or toenail). One or more nails may be affected.
- Try soaking the nails in warm water for acute paronychia.
- Avoid water and chemical exposure to prevent symptoms of chronic paronychia.
- Puncture and drain the affected area and test for bacteria or viral infection.
- Prescribe antibiotics for a bacterial infection or an antiviral medication for a herpes infection.
- Prescribe a topical steroid.
- Prescribe a topical antifungal medication.
- Prescribe an oral antifungal medicine or antibiotics.