Paronychia is an infection of the skin around the nail bed which can cause pain and swelling in the area due to collection of pus. This is most often caused by bacteria. It is common in all ages but three times more common in women than in men.
The infection often develops when there’s a breakage in the skin barrier around the nail bed of the finger or toe allowing germs to enter. Activities like manicuring, using artificial nail, finger sucking, nail biting and injury can predispose to this infection.
If you develop paronychia, it will usually affect one finger and you can have pain and swelling around the fingernail bed. It will look red and tender. It is best to see your doctor. You can consult with a GP online at Consultdoc.
Consultdoc GP will be able to diagnose Paronychia after asking you a short history of the problem and examining the finger through a video consultation. You will be given advice on how to treat the infection at home such as applying a regular warm soak flannel onto the finger to reduce the pain and swelling. You may be prescribed an antibiotic. However, if a collection of pus has developed the doctor can recommend an urgent referral to the hospital to have a small procedure to drain the pus through a small cut in the skin.
Most of the time the finger will heal after few days of treatment. You will be advised to take some pain killers like Paracetamol or Ibuprofen, keep the affected finger clean and dry, avoid injury to the nail and biting the nails. You will also need to wear cotton lined gloves to protect your fingers if you work in a moist environment.