Biting nails and frequent manicures are the most common risk factors for getting a finger infection called paronychia. A paronychial infection occurs when bacteria enter the nail fold (paronychial fold) through a break in the skin. Once the finger is infected, the area around the nail becomes swollen, red and painful. If the treatment is not initiated, fluctuance (abscess) and yellow discharge signifies worsening of the condition. At this point, patient is at risk of serious infection, and significant long term impairment.
How to treat paronychial infection?
The initial treatment usually consists of antibiotics, i.e. Keflex, and warm water soaks. Once an abscess has developed, the area must be surgically drained. Unfortunately, abscess does not respond to antibiotics and must be evacuated.
Post surgical treatment
The surgical treatment usually lasts 10 minutes. The finger is numbed with Lidocaine and the nail fold is raised and drained, followed by dressing the wound. The doctor may send the sample of the abscess for laboratory evaluation in case the infection does not respond to drainage and antibiotics. At home, patient should leave the dressing on for 24 hours followed by warm water soaks 3 times per day, and antibiotics.
Remember that serious infection and impairment can occur if the finger infection is not treated promptly. If you suspect that you have a paronychial infection, visit you doctor immediately. Let him take a look at it, give you antibiotics and hopefully, to avoid minor or serious surgery. Be good to your hands!
1. Hand Surgery Update 3, American Society for Surgery of the Hand, Thomas Trumble M.D.