Causes and Prevention of Paronychia
An infection of the perionychium, Paronychia is an infection that affects the ends of the nails initially to spread to other areas when left untreated. This hand infection is commonly seen in the people in the United States. It can also be seen frequently among children because of finger-sucking and nail biting. Depending on the amount of time the infection is present, Paronychia is divided into chronic or acute paronychia.A break in the epidermis causes both acute and chronic infections. Trauma in the skin because of infections such as ingrown nail, hang nail or nail-biting can lead to acute infection. The most common bacteria which causes this type of hand and nail infection is Staphylococcus aureus. Even Streptococcus species and Pseudomonas species can cause this type of infection. Repeated exposure to irritants such as water and detergents can cause a chronic infection. Even fungi types such as candida albicans can cause acute infection.
Acute paronychia manifests itself as warm, red and painful swelling of the skin around the nail. This can lead to pus formation also which can in turn separate the skin from the nail. This infection can be accompanied by swelling of lymph nodes in the armpit and elbow.
In the case of chronic paronychia, tenderness and redness may not be very visible as in the case of an acute infection. You can also notice a green discoloration on the skin owing to Pseudomonas infection.
You can know about this condition on the basis of clinical symptoms. A culture may be suggested to determine the bacteria involved in case of pus formation. It is more difficult to diagnose chronic paronychia which may be found by means of potassium hydroxide (KOH) test which may reveal the presence of fungus.
For pain relief and encourage drainage warm soaks can be used at least 3-4 times a day. Even antibiotics may be recommended such as dicloxacillin and cephalexin. Anti bacterial ointments and topical antibiotics may not be effective to treat paronychia. The infection may be incised and drained if there is pus formation. You can treat chronic paronychia using antifungal medication such as ketoconazole cream.