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How to Treat Paronychia
Treatments are different for acute and chronic paronychia.
A mild case of acute paronychia (minor swelling or redness near the nail) may be treated by soaking the affected nail in warm water. This treatment can be repeated 2-4 times daily, for about 15 minutes each.
In most cases, this type of paronychia heals within 5-10 days. If your condition does not improve, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotic medication. In cases where an accumulation of pus (abscess) is suspected, your doctor may also cut the area with a scalpel to drain it.
Since some chronic cases might be caused by fungi, your doctor may give you an antifungal medication-perhaps in a liquid formulation called ciclopirox, which is applied directly to the infected area. Studies have shown that oral treatment for fungi does not produce better results than simply applying cortisone cream (see below).
Chronic paronychia may also be caused by a mixed bacterial infection which can be treated with antibiotics. You may need to take the medication for several weeks. Some dermatologists believe that chronic paronychia is often caused by inflammation rather than by either bacterial or fungal infections. For such non-infectious paronychia the use of cortisone creams can be helpful.
Whatever treatment is prescribed, it is important to keep the skin clean and dry. It is also important to avoid getting irritating substances, such as strong cleaners or certain foods, on the area. Surgery may be recommended in some cases of chronic paronychia that do not respond to other treatments.
Symptoms may subside with treatment. However, permanent damage to the nail or surrounding tissue sometimes result.