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What is Paronychia?

Paronychia is a bacterial or fungal infection that develops on or around the nail bed.

What causes Paronychia?

Paronychia occurs when a bacterium or fungus finds its way under the cuticle and into the nail bed. Once there, it is able to multiply and cause infection, most often forming a collection of pus within the skin around the nail bed. Paronychia is often the result of an ingrown fingernail, which irritates the nail bed and cuticles, allowing bacteria to enter.

What are symptoms of Paronychia?

Paronychia is characterized by swelling, redness and tenderness of the area around the fingernail. This is usually the result of the pus reservoir pushing against the skin and causing pressure.

How to diagnose Paronychia

Paronychia can be easily diagnosed by a physical examination, in which the doctor will determine the severity of the infection. Because it presents in such a characteristic manner, Paronychia is unlikely to be mistaken for another condition, and can be quickly dealt with by the doctor.

Treatment Options

Non-surgical treatment of Paronychia

Paronychia is most commonly treated by having the patient soak the affected finger in a solution of water and Epsom salt to encourage draining of the pustule beneath the surface of the skin. Antibacterial creams can also be useful in dealing with the infection, as can oral antibotics.

Surgical treatment of Paronychia

In cases where soaking and oral antibiotics prove ineffective at alleviating the infection, it may be necessary for the doctor to remove the fingernail partially or entirely. This sounds dramatic, but is in truth a very simple procedure with very little pain. The nail bed itself develops a thick skin within a few days, so even after the bandage is removed (after a week, at most), so there is very little irritation or chance of open wounds. If the nail need not be removed, the doctor can also simply cut into the infected area, releasing the pus and blood, but there is a higher risk of secondary infection in this instance. Once the nail is removed it will grow back completely in about 3 to 4 months.

How can Dr. Knight help you with Paronychia?

While not fatal (or even really painful), Paronychia can be an annoying ailment at best, and the fact of the matter is that no infection should go untreated, as it could possibly develop into other conditions that are far less benign. Should the infection spread into the bone, there could be very serious consequences, so it is best to treat quickly and fiercely to avoid this. Dr. Knight is well versed in treating these injuries, and will keep a simple infection from developing into something much more serious.

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