Minor infections of the skin around the nail (paronychia)
are common. They may be caused by repeatedly putting your hands in water or by
an injury such as biting off a
hangnail or pushing back a cuticle. Minimal redness,
pain, or pus that only appears once or twice may clear up with 2 or 3 days of
Signs of infection of the skin around or under the
Pain with swelling, redness, tenderness, or
Red streaks extending from the area.
A green, white, or yellow color under the
Swollen lymph nodes in the elbow, armpit,
You may bump or catch an artificial nail, jar it loose from
your natural nail, and create a gap between the artificial nail and the natural
nail. When this happens, dirt and moisture can get in the gap. A bacterial
skin infection or
fungal nail infection can develop if the artificial
nail is reglued before you clean the gap.
Sometimes a minor
infection of the skin around the nail can lead to infection under the nail
abscess), a more serious infection of the skin (cellulitis), bone (osteomyelitis),
or a joint (septic arthritis). Infections may also affect the
entire body (sepsis).
Infection of the skin of the
fingertip (whitlow) can also be caused by a viral infection (herpes simplex) or a bacterial infection (felon).
Felon can cause destruction of large areas of tissue on the fingertip and also
cause symptoms that affect the entire body.
Felon caused by staphylococcal whitlow is usually
caused by traumatic injury to the fingertip. The end of the finger will be red,
hot, sore, and swollen. An abscess may form. Treatment involves surgery to
drain the abscess, plus antibiotic treatment. An X-ray of the finger is usually
done to determine whether infection of the bone (osteomyelitis) is
Felon caused by herpes simplex appears as blister
formation (vesicles). This occurs most often in people such as dentists,
doctors, or nurses who are exposed to infected oral or respiratory secretions.
Symptoms include intense itching and pain, followed by the formation of deep
sores. A similar problem may be caused by biting your nails while you have a
cold sore. This type of viral infection may respond to acyclovir. The use of
rubber gloves prevents this infection in health professionals.
peripheral arterial disease cause reduced blood flow
and loss of feeling in the feet. Untreated nail injuries can lead to infection,
foot ulcers, and other serious problems.
Prompt treatment of an
infection can help prevent complications.
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.