Paronychia is a skin infection that occurs around the nails.
Infection - skin around the nail
Paronychia is common. It is from injury to the area, such as biting off or picking a hangnail or from trimming or pushing back the cuticle.
The infection is caused by:
A bacterial and fungal infection can occur at the same time.
Fungal paronychia may occur in people who:
Main symptom is a painful, red, swollen area around the nail, often at the cuticle or at the site of a hangnail or other injury. There may be pus-filled blisters, especially with a bacterial infection.
Bacteria cause the condition to come on suddenly. If all or part of the infection is due to a fungus, it tends to occur more slowly.
Nail changes may occur. For example, the nail may look detached, abnormally shaped, or have an unusual color.
If the infection spreads to the rest of the body, symptoms may include:
If you have bacterial paronychia, soaking your nail in warm water 2 or 3 times a day helps reduce swelling and pain.
Your provider may prescribe oral antibiotics. In severe cases, your provider may cut and drain the sore with a sharp instrument. Part of the nail may need to be removed.
If you have chronic fungal paronychia, your provider may prescribe antifungal medicine.
Paronychia often responds well to treatment. But, fungal infections may last for several months.
Complications are rare, but may include:
Call your provider if:
To prevent paronychia:
To minimize the risk for damage to the nails:
Published Date: April 14, 2021
Published By: Elika Hoss, MD, Senior Associate Consultant, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
Andre J, Sass U, Theunis A. Diseases of the nails. In: Calonje E, Brenn T, Lazar AJ, Billings SD, eds. McKee's Pathology of the Skin. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 23.
Dinulos JGH. Nail diseases. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 25.
Leggit JC. Acute and chronic paronychia. Am Fam Physician. 2017;96(1):44-51. PMID: 28671378 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28671378/.
Mallett RB, Banfield CC. Paronychia. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson IH, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 182.