paronychia is a nail disease that is an often-tender bacterial or fungal infection of the hand or foot where the nail and skin meet at the side or the base of a finger or toenail. The infection can start suddenly (acute paronychia) or gradually (chronic paronychia).

Paronychia may be divided as follows:

  • Acute paronychia is an infection of the folds of tissue surrounding the nail of a finger or, less commonly, a toe, lasting less than six weeks. The infection generally starts in the paronychium at the side of the nail, with local redness, swelling, and pain. Acute paronychia is usually caused by direct or indirect trauma to thecuticle or nail fold, and may be from relatively minor events, such as dishwashing, an injury from a splinter or thorn, nail biting, biting or picking at a hangnail, finger sucking, an ingrown nail, or manicure procedures. When no pus is present, warm soaks for acute paronychia is reasonable, even though there is a lack of evidence to support its use.               Antibiotics such as clindamycin or cephalexin are also often used, the first being more effective in areas where MRSA is common. If there are signs of an abscess (the presence of pus) drainage is recommended.
  • Chronic paronychia is an infection of the folds of tissue surrounding the nail of a finger or, less commonly, a toe, lasting more than six weeks. It is a nail diseaseprevalent in individuals whose hands or feet are subject to moist local environments, and is often due to contact dermatitis. In chronic paronychia, the cuticle separates from the nail plate, leaving the region between the proximal nail fold and the nail plate vulnerable to infection. It can be the result of dish washing, finger sucking, aggressively trimming the cuticles, or frequent contact with chemicals (mild alkalisacids, etc.). Chronic paronychia is treated by avoiding whatever is causing it, a topical antifungal, and a topical steroid. In those who do not improve following these measures oral antifungals and steroids may be used or the nail fold may be removed surgically.

 

CAUSE

Acute paronychia is usually caused by bacteria. Claims have also been made that the popular acne medication, isotretinoin, has caused paronychia to develop in patients. Paronychia is often treated with antibiotics, either topical or oral. Chronic paronychia is most often caused by a yeast infection of the soft tissues around the nail but can also be traced to a bacterial infection. If the infection is continuous, the cause is often fungal and needs antifungal cream or paint to be treated.

Risk factors include repeatedly washing hands and trauma to the cuticle such as from biting.

Herpes whitlows are frequently found among dentists and dental hygienists. Prosector's paronychia is a primary inoculation of tuberculosis of the skin and nails, named after its association with prosectors, who prepare specimens for dissection. Paronychia around the entire nail is sometimes referred to as runaround paronychia.

Painful paronychia in association with a scaly, erythematouskeratotic rash (papules and plaques) of the ears, nose, fingers, and toes, may be indicative of acrokeratosis paraneoplastica, which is associated with squamous cell carcinoma of the larynxParonychia can occur with diabetes, drug-induced immunosuppression, or systemic diseases such as pemphigus.

 

TREATMENT

When no pus is present warm soaks for acute paronychia is reasonable, even though there is a lack of evidence to support its use. Antibiotics such as clindamycin or cephalexin are also often used, the first being more effective in areas where MRSA is common. If there are signs of an abscess (the presence of pus) drainage is recommended.

Chronic paronychia is treated by avoiding whatever is causing it, and applying a topical antifungal and a topical steroid. In those who do not improve following these measures oral antifungals and steroids may be used or the nail fold may be removed surgically with acid (phenol) and or CO2 laser. Tyler Foot and Ankle Clinic uses CO2 laser to minimize the chances of the ingrown nail from returning. We are foot specialist in the Tyler area in treating this condition. The procedure only takes less than ten minutes.