Nail Infection Paronychia.

An easy-to-understand overview of nail infections (fresh fingers), such as possible causes, treatment and when to see a doctor.

To remember

  • Nail infections can occur on the hands and feet.
  • Nail biting and finger sucking can damage the skin and allow bacteria to enter.
  • Swelling, redness and tenderness near the infected area are some of the symptoms.
  • Clean the infection 3 times a day in warm water and antiseptic soap.
  • If the infection is not cured after 4 or 5 days, consult a doctor.


What is a nail infection?

Nail infections occur on or near the skin around the nail. Most of the time, nail infections are not serious, but they can be painful. This type of infection can also appear on the toenails.

Signs and symptoms

Here are some of the signs and symptoms:


  • swelling where the cuticle meets the nail;
  • redness and slight tenderness around the infected area;
  • yellow pus flowing from the swollen area.
  • Causes, risk factors and prevalence


Nail infections (fresh fingers) are caused by bacteria that come under the skin around the nail. Nail biting (onychophagia), ingrown nails and finger sucking can damage the skin and allow bacteria to enter.


Soak the infection in an antiseptic solution

Soak the infection in warm water and an antiseptic soap. Repeat this procedure 3 times a day for periods of 10-20 minutes. If the infection is not cured after 4 or 5 days, make an appointment with your child’s doctor.


In most cases, the pus will flow by itself after soaking the infected site. You may need to apply gentle pressure by gently rubbing or pressing the area with a damp towel or cotton swab. If that does not work, go see the doctor. It may drain the pus by opening the infected area with a needle.


You can start by applying an antibiotic ointment in OTC, such as Polisporin, on the infected area 2 to 3 times a day. The best time to apply this ointment is just after soaking the infected finger (s) in hot water for 10 to 20 minutes. If the infection persists, your child’s doctor may prescribe stronger antibiotic ointment to fight the infection. Apply the ointment as directed until the infection disappears. If the infection seems to spread beyond the nail, your child’s doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic.


Encourage your child not to bite, skin or chew. Use a nail clipper instead. Avoid regrowing or cutting the cuticles.

When to seek medical help

When to consult a doctor?

Make an appointment with your child’s doctor if:

  • your child has a fever;
  • the infection is not cured after 4 or 5 days;
  • redness or swelling increases;
  • if the area is hot and painful.

Infection of the tendon sheath affecting the tendons of the fingers and usually caused by bacteria.

The pockets of pus (abscesses) can sit around the tendons of the fingers. They are caused by an injury at the level of the palmar folds of a finger. The pus of an untreated paronychia can also spread from the tip of the finger to the end of the tendon sheath. A purulent infectious focus, which rapidly destroys tissue, forms around the tendon. The tendon sliding mechanism is altered, resulting in a severe reduction of finger mobility. Symptoms of tendon sheath infection include swelling and pain of the finger and tendon sheath sensitivity. The finger is more comfortable when it is bent (bending). The movement of the finger can cause extreme pain. Fever is common.


  • A medical examination of the doctor.
  • Cultures

Doctors base their diagnosis of infection of the tendon sheath on an examination. X – rays are performed to detect foreign bodies (such as a tooth fragment, needle or other object) that may be hidden under the skin. To identify the type of bacteria that causes the infection, doctors take a sample of pus in the abscess and try to cultivate ( culture ) the bacteria in the laboratory.


  • Drainage of pus.
  • Antibiotics

The person is hospitalized. Doctors drain the pus by performing a surgical incision. Antibiotics are administered intravenously.