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Health Information For Parents
Paronychia (pahr-uh-NIK-ee-uh) is an infection of the skin around a fingernail or toenail. The infected area can become swollen, red, and painful, and a pus-filled blister (abscess) may form.
Most of the time, paronychia is not serious and can be treated at home. In rare cases, the infection can spread to the rest of the finger or toe and lead to a deeper infection that may need a doctor’s help.
Kids usually don’t get paronychia in a toe (unless they have an ingrown toenail). But fingernail paronychia is one of the most common hand infections.
Paronychia usually happens when the skin around the nail is irritated or injured. When skin gets damaged like this, germs can get in and cause an infection. These germs can be:
Things that can injure the skin around a nail include:
Kids with diabetes also have a higher chance of getting paronychia infections.
If your child has paronychia, it’s usually easy to recognize. Look for:
Chronic paronychia can cause changes in the affected nail. It might turn a different color or look as though it is detached or abnormally shaped.
In rare cases, if the paronychia is especially severe and goes untreated, the infection can spread beyond the area of the nail.
Usually, a doctor or nurse practitioner can diagnose paronychia by looking at the infected area. In some cases, they may take a pus sample to be checked in a laboratory to see what type of bacteria or fungus caused the infection.
Treating paronychia depends on how severe the infection is and whether it has started to spread. Often, soaking the infected nail in warm water for 20 minutes a few times a day will help it heal on its own in a few days.
If there’s an abscess, a doctor might need to drain it. In rare cases, part of the nail may have to be removed. The doctor also might prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
Usually, after an abscess is drained, the affected finger or toe heals quickly with no long-term problems.
For fungal paronychia, the doctor may prescribe antifungal creams, lotions, or oral (taken by mouth) medicines.
Have kids follow these tips to lower their risk of paronychia:
As much as possible, have kids try to avoid injuring their nails and the skin around them. Nails grow very slowly, so any damage to them can last a long time and increase the risk of paronychia.
Call your doctor if:
Doctors order wound drainage cultures when they suspect wounds are infected.
Cutting your little one’s nails can be a bit scary. Here’s how to do it safely.
Nail biting, hair twirling, thumb sucking, and nose picking – these childhood habits are common. Here’s how to deal with them.
Our skin protects the network of tissues, muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels, and everything else inside our bodies. Hair and nails are actually modified types of skin.
Paronychia is an infection of the skin around a fingernail or toenail. Most of the time, it’s not serious. Find out what causes it, what to do, and how to prevent it.
People can get abscesses on the skin, under the skin, in a tooth, or even inside the body. Most abscesses are caused by infection, so it can help to know what to do. Find out in this article for teens.
A toenail is ingrown when it begins to break through and grow into the soft skin of the toe. Find out more about ingrown toenails.
An abscess is a sign of an infection, usually on the skin. Find out what to do if your child develops one.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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