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Paronychia is a skin infection that occurs next to nails. It can be a fungal or bacterial infection. Paronychia causes the nail to become tender and swollen. Further, if untreated, the nail itself could become infected. Occasionally, pus may form. This condition is called whitlow.
- If the infection is painful and sudden, bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus could be to blame.
- Yeast is a fungus. Generally, Candida causes fungal infection. It develops slowly and is likely to become a chronic condition.
- Less common causes are other microbes, like viruses and other fungi.
Antibiotics may be necessary if it is a bacterial nail infection. Yet, if the infection is from yeast or fungus, anti-fungal medicines may work. Rarely, it may need a minor surgery to drain out collected pus.
Some infections can happen with no reason. But, other conditions thrive from bacteria that may lead to infections.
Hands in water may increase the risk of infection. Especially hands in soapy water. For instance, the nail fold may have damage from constant washing. Thus, people with jobs requiring constant washing are prone to the infection. Jobs such as cleaners, bartenders, and fishermen for example. Beauticians, dairy farmers and dish washers are also examples.
If you have broken skin there is a higher chance for the germs to get inside your skin. Broken skin can be from an injury. Also, people with a habit of biting nails may get an infection. Other conditions when infections may develop:
- Presence of splinters.
- If you have a manicure procedure executed poorly. This is from pushing the cuticles too far back.
- Pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema or contact dermatitis.
Gloves prevent ventilation and gathers moisture. It also encourages the growth of bacteria. Thus, use cotton-lined rubber gloves to minimize the effect of water on your hands if you have to keep your hands in water for extended periods of time. Also, artificial nail extensions also cause germs to multiply.
Suffering from a bacterial nail infection?
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Antibiotic creams can treat the infection. But this is if the infection is minor and not very painful. Oral antibiotics, however, treat moderate to severe bacterial infections. But, if you do not experience a significant difference in pain after taking antibiotics, consult your doctor. Doctors perform a swab test to identify which strain of bacteria is causing the problem. They then alter the medication based on the test.
Draining the pus out
A medical professional makes a small cut. This is to drain accumulated pus to ease the swelling.
Warm bathing and painkillers
- Avoid keeping your hands in water for long periods of time.
- Also, dry your hands and feet well after a shower or washing them. As much as possible, keep them dry.
- Ensure your hands are clean, warm and dry as much as possible.
- Don’t use products that could irritate the skin like strong soaps and detergents.
- Avoid getting manicures and don’t suck your finger or bite your nails.
- Be sure to wear comfortable and breathable footwear if the injury is on the toe.
- If there is an underlying skin condition, be sure to treat them with antifungal creams, steroid creams or antifungal tablets.
- Avoid biting your nails and clipping your nails too close to the skin. Don’t pick at the skin around your nails.