Paronychium or cuticle inflammation is a bacteria-induced infection of the fingernail or toenail. In most cases, hygienic measures are sufficient to treat the condition.

Bacterial nail infections usually occur between two and five days after local trauma. That can even be a relatively small trauma, such as a bite, a prick, removing a piece of skin around the nail, manipulating the cuticle (the small sheet at the base of the nail), applying artificial nails or an ingrown nail. The infection begins with a painful swelling around the nail, which is accompanied by redness. Sometimes a purulent liquid seeps out.

In general, the inflammation disappears on its own. There are several hygiene measures that you can take, such as washing the finger or foot regularly with soap and water, and shielding the injury with a bandage. It is also best to soak the finger in a hot water bath three to four times a day for 10 to 15 minutes to relieve the pain and to help the pus drain. It has not been proven that a saline solution or antiseptic would work better than warm water. When an abscess is formed, it usually disappears spontaneously.

If there is no improvement, or if the inflammation worsens after two or three days, despite having applied the hygiene measures, it is useful to consult your doctor. He or she can make a cut and drain the abscess. The medical journal Prescrire adds that in patients at increased risk of infectious complications (diabetes, immunosuppressive treatment, etc.) the use of antibiotics should be considered.

Angie Mahecha

An fitness addict passionate of all things nature and animals, Angie often volunteers her time to NGOs and governmental organizations alike working with animals in general and endangered species in particular. She covers stories on wildlife and the environment for the Scientific Origin.