1. Protect Nail
- Do not remove any part of the nail.
- If an artificial nail is on an infected finger, remove it.
2. Reduce Pain and Swelling
For mild nail infection or while waiting to see a doctor:
- Soak the affected foot or hand 3 to 4 times daily for 20 minutes in warm water. You can add hydrogen peroxide (half of the solution).
- Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment and bandage. An oral antibiotic will likely be prescribed.
3. When to See a Doctor
Seek medical help as soon as possible if:
- Symptoms don’t improve after 2 to 3 days.
- A pus-filled abscess pocket forms on the side or base of the nail.
- The person has a fever and red streaks around the nail, nail discoloration, or joint or muscle pain.
- The person has diabetes.
4. Follow Up
If you seek medical help:
- The doctor may sample pus or fluid and prescribe an oral antibiotic. In chronic cases of paronychia, your doctor may prescribe an anti-fungal topical.
- If a pus-filled abscess pocket develops, a doctor may need to drain it.