Fingernail infection (paronychia)

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An overview of fingernail infections including possible causes, treatment and when to see a health-care provider.

Key points

  • Nail infections can occur on the hands and the feet.
  • Nail biting and finger sucking can cause breaks in the skin, allowing bacteria to enter.
  • Symptoms include swelling, redness and tenderness of the area where the nail meets the tissue of the finger.
  • Clean the infected nail three times a day with warm water and an antibacterial soap.
  • If the infection has not gone away after four or five days, seek medical attention.
Last updated: March 12th 2024