An ingrown toenail occurs when the side of a toenail grows into the soft tissue of that toe. This condition usually affects the big toe, although it can occur on any toe. Ingrown toenails may occur as a result of wearing cramped shoes, trauma to the feet, hereditary factors, or improperly trimming toenails. Symptoms of an ingrown toenail may include redness around the affected toenail, infection of the tissue surrounding the toenail, and swelling of the affected toe. Ingrown toenails that are left untreated may spread infection to the surrounding bone.
Ingrown toenails can usually be treated by regularly soaking the foot in warm water and applying antibiotic creams. More severe cases may require lifting the nail from the skin or removing part or all of the affected nail and its surrounding tissue. The exact course of treatment will vary based on each patent’s individual condition and medical history.
Paronychia is a common infection of the skin just next to a nail. Treatment usually involves antibiotic medicines for germ (bacterial) infections. Occasionally antifungal medicines for infection caused by a yeast (candida) or a fungus are used. In some cases steroid creams may be needed for the skin around the nail. Occasionally a small operation is needed to drain out any pus which has collected.
What is paronychia?
Paronychia is an infection of the skin just next to a nail (the nail fold). The infected nail fold looks swollen, inflamed and may be tender. There may also be a small collection of pus in the swelling. The nail itself may become infected or damaged if a nail-fold infection is left untreated. Paronychia is also sometimes called ‘whitlow’.
You are more likely to develop a nail-fold infection if your hands are in water for long periods, particularly with detergents. Some jobs involve having wet hands for long periods of time. Constant washing may damage the nail fold and allow infection to develop. The following are examples of people who might be more prone to nail-fold infections due to their job:
A break in the skin allows the germs on the skin to get inside. Examples which make you more prone to infection around the nails include:
If you use gloves for long periods, or use artificial nails, it can cause a moist, airless condition around your fingernails. This is good for some germs to thrive and cause infection.
If your infection is caused by bacteria then an antibiotic may be prescribed. Antibiotics commonly used for this type of infection include flucloxacillin or erythromycin. In a minor infection an antibiotic cream may be all that is needed – for example, supirocin cream or fucidic acid cream
If the antibiotic prescribed is not improving your infection after you have been taking it for a few days, you should see your doctor. Your doctor may take a sample (swab) of the infected area (to determine the actual bacteria causing your symptoms). He or she may also change the antibiotic to a different one.
Draining the pus out
If a lot of pus has collected, and your finger or toe is very swollen, the pus may need to be drained. A small cut is made to allow the pus to come out.
Warm bathing and painkillers
It may also help to soak the affected finger in warm salted water four times a day. Pain medicines such as Paracetamol or diclofenac, often work well to ease any pain.
Treatment for paronychia which lasts more than six weeks
If the problem has dragged on for six weeks or more, it is called chronic paronychia. Chronic means persisting. If this is the case there may be an underlying skin condition. In other cases there can be infection with a yeast or fungus. This is particularly common in those people mentioned above who have their hands in water a lot.
Treatment options include:
The following may help:
To know more about your condition
There are a variety of factors which can cause nail disease. To learn more about your nail condition or to schedule an appointment, contact our offices today.