Paronychia Treatment Questions and Answers
Paronychia is a skin infection around the fingernails or toenails. Advanced Foot & Ankle offers treatment of acute and chronic paronychia. For more call us today. We are open 6 days a week! Book an appointment online. We have convenient locations near you in Elgin IL, Schaumburg IL, Huntley IL, and Chicago IL.
If you are experiencing pain, swelling, and redness around a toenail, you are likely dealing with a skin infection known as paronychia. While paronychia is not immediately serious, it can lead to significant complications if it is not treated promptly and effectively. As such, you should see a podiatrist if you are concerned that you may have paronychia in or around a toenail. To give you a better idea of what paronychia is and the available treatment options, we have provided some answers to commonly asked questions about paronychia below.
What is Paronychia?
Paronychia is a skin infection that occurs in the tissue folds around the fingernails and toenails, though it affects fingernails more commonly than toenails. When paronychia occurs, it usually starts out with pain, swelling, and redness at the cuticle or sides of the nail or both. In some cases, abscesses can form within the infected skin.
Paronychia can either be acute or chronic. Acute paronychia appears suddenly but does not last long and usually occurs on the fingernails. Chronic paronychia lasts significantly longer with recurring symptoms or symptoms that fail to improve. Chronic paronychia is common on both the fingernails and toenails. The distinguishing line between acute and chronic paronychia is if the infection lasts less or more than six weeks.
If an individual has chronic paronychia, it can cause the cuticle to break down and eventually cause the nail to separate from the skin. The nail may also become deformed, hard, and thick.
What causes Paronychia?
Paronychia occurs when bacteria, fungi, or irritants enter the skin around the nail. The most common bacteria that cause paronychia include Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus pyogenes. Chronic paronychia is commonly caused by repeated inflammation due to allergens, irritants, or moisture.
With that in mind, some common occurrences that lead to paronychia include aggressive nail trimming, biting or chewing your nails, injuries to the toenail from stubbing your toe or a heavy object falling on your toe, or cracks in the skin around the toe.
What happens if Paronychia is left untreated?
If paronychia is left untreated, the infection can spread to the entire toe or finger, and the pain, swelling, and redness will continue to worsen. Abscesses can form in the skin, causing significant pain and tenderness if the infection spreads to the pulp of the finger (i.e., where your fingerprint is located). Such cases of paronychia require an incision to drain the abscess. If such measures are not taken, it could lead to loss of function or amputation of the finger or toe.
During abscess drainage, the podiatrist will numb the area with a local anesthetic, then separate the skin from the cuticle or sides of the nail before draining the abscess.
Can a podiatrist help with Paronychia?
A podiatrist can provide exceptional help for paronychia infections affecting the skin around one or more toes. Depending on the severity of the inflammation and infection, treatment options that a podiatrist can provide for paronychia include oral or topical antibiotics for bacterial causes of paronychia, antifungal medications for fungal causes of paronychia, or abscess drainage when necessary. Your podiatrist may also recommend soaking the nail in warm water three to four times every day to relieve pain and inflammation.
If you would like more information about paronychia treatment or want to see one of our podiatrists at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists about a potential case of paronychia, please do not hesitate to give us a call or schedule an appointment through our website. Advanced Foot and Ankle Specialists have convenient locations near you in Elgin IL, Schaumburg IL, Huntley IL, and Chicago IL.