Contributors: Mariah Rossi and Dr. Emran of Simple Health Radio
Dr. Emran discusses a patient, “Elizabeth”, who came into the ER with a very painful and swollen finger for several days. Elizabeth said she had not suffered any trauma, but the pain and redness of her finger were worsening. Nothing she tried at home was helping.
The only thing she had done differently got a manicure at a local salon. By asking a few more questions, Dr. Emran determined that the had a Paronychia infection.
A Paronychia is a painful infection found in the cuticle of the fingernail or the toenail. While most of the nail is comprised of dead cells, the cuticle is the living part of the nail called the matrix. That is where the Paronychia infection can live and spread.
In Elizabeth’s case, the day after she got her nails done, her finger started swelling. Although the tools the salon used were probably sterile, Elizabeth’s cuticles were prone to the infection. Other people may develop Paronychia infections from biting their nails, simple thorns from gardening, or pulling a hangnail.
Luckily, Elizabeth went to the ER in time and the infection was treated with an antibiotic injection, an oral antibiotic, and a topical antibiotic. However, if the infection is left untreated it can turn into a Felon, which is a severe infection that spreads to the entirety of the finger.
Elizabeth’s Paronychia was treated with prescription antibiotics. Dr. Emran suggests that there are a few home remedies that can aid a mild infection. He suggests warm water and Epsom salts, Neosporin, or other over-the-counter topical ointments.
While Paronychia can be treated at home, Dr. Emran also warns of home treatments that should not be attempted. First, do not squeeze a Paronychia. Secondly, do not attempt to drain a Paronychia. Both of these methods can dangerously worsen the infection.
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