Bacterial Nail Infection(Paronychia)

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Bacterial Nail Infection(Paronychia)


What is Paronychia?

Paronychia is a disease of the skin around your fingernails and toenails. Bacteria or a type of yeast called Candida is the cause of this disease. Bacteria and yeast can even combine as one infection.

Based on the cause of the disease, paronychia may come on slowly and last for quite a long time or show up suddenly and last for only one or two days. The symptoms of paronychia are easy to spot and can usually be effectively treated with little or no harm to the skin and nails. Your infection can become serious and even result in a partial or complete loss of your nail if it's not treated.


Acute and chronic paronychia

Paronychia can be either acute or chronic depending upon the speed of onset, the length, and the infecting agents.


Acute paronychia

An acute infection majorly occurs around the fingernails and grows rapidly. It's typically the result of harm to the skin around the nails from biting, picking, hangnails, manicures, or another physical injury. Staphylococcus and Enterococcus bacteria are common infecting agents in the case of acute paronychia.


Chronic  paronychia

Chronic paronychia can happen on your fingers or toes, and it goes on slowly. It lasts for several weeks and often returns. It's normally caused by one or more contaminating agents, often Candida yeast and bacteria. It's more common in individuals who're continually working in water. Chronically wet skin and extreme soaking disrupt the natural hindrance of the cuticle. This allows yeast and bacteria to develop and get underneath the skin to create a disease.


Who's at risk?

Acute paronychia may happen at any age however is especially common in children. Viral paronychia occurs more frequently in adults and might be seen with genital herpes infection or in individuals who work in the medicinal services industry.

Chronic paronychia is most common in adult women and the individuals who work in places where their hands are kept moist, for example, food handlers.


Symptoms of paronychia

The symptoms of both acute and chronic paronychia are fundamentally the same as. They're generally distinguished from each other by the speed of beginning and the span of the disease. Chronic infections come on slowly and last for a long time. Acute infections grow rapidly and don't last long.  Both infections can have the following symptoms:

  • Redness of the skin around your nail.
  • Tenderness of the skin around your nail.
  • Discharge filled blisters.
  • Changes in nail shape, color, or texture.
  • Separation of your nail.


Causes of paronychia

There are multiple reasons for both acute and chronic paronychia. The underlying reason for each is bacteria, Candida yeast, or a combination of the two agents.


Acute paronychia

A bacterial agent that’s acquainted with the region around your nail by some type of injury causes an acute infection. This can be from biting or picking at your nails or hangnails, being punctured by manicurist instruments, pushing down your cuticles too forcefully, and other similar sorts of wounds.


Chronic paronychia

The underlying agent of infection in chronic paronychia is most commonly Candida yeast, however, it can also be bacteria. Because yeasts develop well in moist environments, this disease is often caused by having your feet or hands in water for too much time. Chronic inflammation also plays a role.


Self-Care Guidelines

Try soaking the nails in warm water for acute paronychia.

Stay away from water and chemical compounds to prevent symptoms of chronic paronychia.

How paronychia is diagnosed

Much of the time, a specialist diagnosis paronychia simply by watching it.

Your specialist may send a sample of discharge from your infection to a lab if treatment doesn't appear to help. This will decide the exact contaminating agent and will allow your specialist to recommend the best treatment.


How paronychia is treated

For acute paronychia, your specialist may:

  • Cut and deplete the affected area and test for bacteria or viral infection.
  • Recommend antibiotics for a bacterial infection or an antiviral drug for a herpes infection.


For chronic paronychia, your specialist may:

  • Recommend a topical steroid.
  • Recommend a topical antifungal medicine.
  • Recommend an oral antifungal medication or antibiotics.


How paronychia can be prevented

Good cleanliness is important for preventing paronychia. Keep your hands and feet clean to prevent bacteria from getting between your nails and skin. Avoiding injury caused due to, biting, picking, or manicures can likewise enable you to prevent acute infections.

To prevent a chronic infection, you should avoid exposure to water and wet environments and keep your hands and feet as dry as possible.

*Disclaimer- None of the information provided here is the substitute for any diagnosis or treatment by your health professional. Seek the advice of your qualified health provider or your physician in case of any critical or major health issue does not rely on this information in case of any emergency.

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Written by -

Padma Lekhi