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Paronychia Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on October 19, 2019

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 inantiseptic solution of warm water and chlorhexadine or povidone-iodine. 
  • Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment and bandage. (An oral antibiotic may 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.
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