The affected region will most likely be red, swollen, and heated. You could see a pus-filled blister. If the paronychia has been present for a long period, the nail may change color. It could not have its regular form, or it can appear to be pulling away from the nail bed.
Paronychia can be caused by any of the following conditions:
Inflammatory diseases such as lichen planus or psoriasis. These conditions are treated with medications or light treatments (phototherapy).
Nail infections. The skin around your nails functions as a kind of filter that helps protect you from bacteria found in your environment. When this protective mechanism is compromised, such as by cutting your nails too short, you put yourself at risk for developing skin infections under your nails.
Prickly heat. This condition is characterized by red bumps that feel like small pimples and that are usually located on the face or upper body. Prickly heat can be caused by allergies or by using synthetic fabrics such as polyester or nylon clothing. The skin cells of people who suffer from prickly heat are damaged when they come into contact with chemicals used in these clothes.
Smoking. Smoking is one of the most common causes of paronychia. Smoking reduces blood flow to the skin, causing it to become red, swollen, and sometimes painful.
The symptoms of paronychia are easy to recognize and may typically be treated with little or no harm to your skin and nails. If left untreated, your infection might progress to the point where you lose part or all of your nail. In this case, you will need to see a doctor so that the problem can be resolved properly.
Treatment for paronychia includes antibiotics to kill any bacteria present in the area or on your fingers, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, and protective measures such as wearing gloves to prevent further infections.
If you are not taking proper care of your hands by washing them regularly, you put yourself at risk for developing paronychia. Washing your hands often is essential for preventing contagious diseases that spread via touch. It is recommended to wash your hands after going to sleep, after using the bathroom, and before eating food. Hand sanitizer can replace soap when washing your hands because it contains an alcohol compound that kills most common germs including viruses that cause the flu.
People with paronychia should avoid touching their nose or rubbing noses because this could spread the infection further. Likewise, people with paronychia should refrain from shaking hands or kissing on the mouth to prevent transmitting bacteria from one person to another.
Warm soaks in warm water or a mixture of 50% warm water and 50% liquid antibacterial soap are recommended three to four times each day for around 15 minutes of care at home. This soaking should be done as soon as there is any redness around the nail. If an abscess is apparent, you should consult a doctor.
In addition, topical antibiotics may be prescribed by your doctor. These medications help prevent infection of the nail bed and tissue surrounding the nails.
Paronychia can also be treated with simple measures at home. Wash hands regularly using an antibacterial soap to keep infections at bay. It is important to wash away any material that may have come in contact with the infected area such as cosmetics, nail polish, and other beauty products.
If you wear nail polish, remove it before washing your hands to avoid spreading any infection from one hand to the other. Wear gloves if you work with chemicals or hot objects that could damage your skin. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist beyond two weeks. A fungal infection may need more than home remedies; see your doctor to find out what treatment is best for you.