Paronychia is an infection that can develop suddenly or gradually in the tissue around the fingernails and, sometimes, the toenails. When a person contracts paronychia, the infected tissues can become inflamed or swollen, causing the nearby nail to crack or split. This type of infection can last for several days or weeks, depending on how the patient developed their symptoms. 

Is There a Specific Cause for Paronychia?

There are ordinarily two types of paronychia with differing causes, as explained below:

  • Acute Paronychia — This type of paronychia occurs suddenly without warning. Bacterial infection of the cuticle or nail fold is usually the cause of acute paronychia, often due to excessive hand washing, nail biting or picking, ingrown nail, or splinters. 
  • Chronic Paronychia — This type of paronychia develops gradually over time. Fungal infection is typically the cause of chronic paronychia, often due to exposure to a moist environment such as bartending or dishwashing. Though bacterial infection can also play a role in chronic paronychia. 

What are the Signs & Symptoms of Paronychia?

The signs and symptoms of paronychia can vary from patient to patient. There can be fluctuations based on the presence of acute or chronic paronychia as well. That being said, patients with paronychia usually experience any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Redness;
  • Swelling;
  • Inflammation;
  • Pus accumulating near the nail;
  • Cracked or split nails;
  • Discolored nails;
  • Fever; and
  • Sharp pain.

How is Paronychia Diagnosed & Treated?

A medical professional can normally diagnose paronychia by conducting a physical examination of the affected nail or nails. The tell-tale signs of paronychia are usually easy for a qualified professional to detect. Though in certain cases, tests are needed to determine whether the issue is a result of bacterial or fungal infection. 

On that note, it is important for a medical professional to examine paronychia before attempting any treatment options. Patients who engage in self-treatment may accidentally exacerbate their symptoms. In particular, individuals with diabetes or a fever should contact a medical professional immediately. 

In many cases, treatment of acute paronychia is different from treatment of chronic paronychia, as detailed below:

  • Acute Paronychia — Treatment for this type of bacterial infection generally centers on antibiotic medication. Though a medical professional might need to drain pus or remove a small piece of the affected nail. If the patient follows all medical directions, recovery from acute paronychia can be as little as five to 10 days. 
  • Chronic Paronychia — Treatment for this type of fungal infection general centers on topical anti-fungal medication. Patients usually need to take this medication for several weeks to combat chronic paronychia.

Do You Need Medical Assistance with Paronychia? 

Whether you are experiencing the symptoms acute or chronic paronychia, it can be incredibly productive to discuss your condition with an adept orthopaedic surgeon. At the Orthopaedic Associates of Riverside, our surgeons are board-certified with experience treating a number of orthopaedic issues, including acute and chronic paronychia. If you need medical assistance with paronychia or other orthopaedic issues, conatct us today.

Contact us today!