It is easy to watch the days pass by without noticing that your toenail and its surrounding skin has been bothering you. You peeked at it in the beginning and notice that the skin was red, puffy, and slightly discolored. Your first thought was that a hangnail has become infected, so you clean the site. After some time though, the swelling continues and the nail starts to get ridges. What is it that is affecting your nail that way? It could be paronychia.
Paronychia is a soft tissue infection around a fingernail or toenail that begins as cellulitis. Over time, if not properly and promptly treated, it can progress into an abscess. More specifically, it is a superficial infection of the thin tissue forming the outer layer of a body’s surface and lining adjacent to the nail plate that begins as cellulitis but that may progress to a definite abscess. The 2 forms of paronychia, acute and chronic, usually differ in causation, infectious agent, and treatment and are often considered separate entities.
The acute infection, which is painful and pus-filled, is most frequently caused by staphylococci bacteria although it commonly has mixed microbiota that may or may not need free oxygen to survive. The patient's condition and discomfort are noticeably improved by a simple drainage procedure. Chronic paronychial infections are usually fungal, rather than bacterial, in nature.
Signs and Symptoms of Paronychia
- Pus collection under the skin
- Thickened skin around fingernails and toenails
- Runaround infection
- Nail plates become thickened and discolored
- The cuticles and nail folds may separate from the nail plate
The diagnosis of paronychia is based primarily on patient history and physical examination.
- Soak toenails in warm water with Epsom salts 3-4 times a day
- Antibiotics as prescribed by your podiatrist
- If an abscess has developed, incision and drainage must be performed
Do you have swelling, redness, and pain on or around the skin of your toenails? Have all of your at-home remedies failed to cure it and you are stuck? Call Dr. Alan J. Discont and Dr. Krahn of Family Foot & Ankle Care, PC located in Chandler, Arizona. Call 480-732-0033 or make an appointment online today. You do not have to suffer through the pain alone.