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Paronychia is an infection of your nail fold caused by bacteria or a fungus. The nail fold is the skin around your nail. Paronychia may happen suddenly and last for 6 weeks or longer. You may have paronychia on more than 1 finger or toe.



  • Td vaccine is a booster shot used to help prevent tetanus and diphtheria. The Td booster may be given to adolescents and adults every 10 years or for certain wounds and injuries.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine will help fight or prevent an infection. It may be given as a pill, cream, or ointment.
  • Steroids: This medicine will help decrease inflammation. It may be given as a pill, cream, or ointment.
  • Antifungal medicine: This medicine helps kill fungus that may be causing your infection. It may be given as a cream or ointment.
  • NSAIDs: These medicines decrease pain and swelling. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your healthcare provider which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and when to take it. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney problems if not taken correctly.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Soak your nail: Soak your nail in a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water 3 or 4 times each day. This will help decrease inflammation.
  • Apply a warm compress: Soak a washcloth in warm water and place it on your nail. This will help decrease inflammation.
  • Elevate: Raise your nail above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your nail on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
  • Use lotion: Apply lotion after you wash your hands. This will prevent your skin from becoming too dry.

Prevent paronychia:

  • Avoid chemicals and allergens that may harm your skin and nails. This includes soaps, laundry detergents, and nail products.
  • Keep your nails clean and dry. Avoid soaking your nails in water. Use cotton-lined rubber gloves or wear 2 rubber gloves if you work with food or water. The gloves will help protect your nail folds.
  • Keep your nails short. Do not bite your nails, pick at your hangnails, suck your fingers, or wear fake nails. Bring your own nail tools when you go to the nail salon.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your nail becomes loose, deformed, or falls off.
  • You have a large abscess on your nail.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have severe nail pain.
  • The inflammation spreads to your hand or arm.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Paronychia (Aftercare Instructions)

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Symptoms and treatments

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.