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How to treat paronychia

Paronychia is an infection of the area surrounding the fingernail or toenail that might be due to bacteria or fungus. The condition typically develops if the site is injured due to manicure, biting on the nails or cutting a hangnail. Conditions such as diabetes are susceptible to develop paronychia.

Causes of paronychia

  • Nail injuries
  • Hangnails that result to minor infection causing the skin around the affected nails becoming swollen and tender.

    Redness and swelling around the affected nail.

  • Biting and sucking the nails, that can result to red and sore cuticles that bleed; it increases the risk of developing bacterial infections around the nail beds and in the mouth.
  • Washing dishes
  • Irritants from chemicals
  • Can be confused with herpetic whitlow which cause small pustules on the finger due to virus


  • Redness and swelling around the affected nail
  • Sore to the touch
  • The affected area has yellow-green coloration which indicates an accumulation of pus under the skin or abscess of the toenail or fingernail
  • Pain and tenderness when touched


  • Soak the affected area in saltwater. In a basin filled with warm water, add 1 spoon of salt, mix them well until salt is totally dissolved. Soak the area for at least 15 minutes. 3-4 times every day to lessen the swelling, the pain and for fast healing of the condition. Another alternative is applying warm compress on the affected finger or toe to lessen the pain and the swelling.
  • Take the prescribed antibiotics if having a history of peripheral vascular disease and diabetes.
  • Incision and drainage of the fluid if an abscess develops
  • Apply the prescribed over-the-counter antifungal creams to lessen fungal infection and corticosteroid creams to lessen the symptoms of non-infectious paronychia.
  • Apply a mixture of thymol from thyme oil several times every day to keep area of the cuticle dry and prevent entry of microorganisms and worsen the condition.
  • Apply hydrogen peroxide over the area to lessen the pain and the swelling. It will also lessen the redness of the affected area.


  • Wear gloves when working in water or chemicals and apply cream to eliminate moisture while the condition heals.
  • Avoid removing or tearing or removing the cuticles and putting artificial nails.
  • Practice proper hygiene by proper washing of hands using antibacterial soap, avoiding sharing of personal belongings such as towels to other people to prevent the spread of infection.
  • Avoid biting and sucking the nails to avoid injuring the nails to result to infection and accumulation of pus under the nails.
  • Avoid using bad smelling nail polish for the nails.
  • Soak the affected fingernails in antibacterial solution. In a dish filled with warm water, add antibacterial solution and soak the affected finger in the solution for at least 15 minutes, 4 times every day to lessen the pain due to accumulation of pus under the fingernail.

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