Answer to your Health Question

Question: I seem to have an infection in the fingernail of my left ring finger. The nail itself is not sore or discolored at all, but the skin along only the left side of the nail is very sore and tender and is red and slight swollen, especially out near the finger tip, at the corner of the nail. Neither the right side of the finger, nor any other part of it are affected whatsoever and the symptoms are not present in any other part of my fingers or hands. Is this a common nail infection of some kind? And if so are there any truly effective home remedies or treatments I can use to clear it up and prevent a recurrence? Steve

Answer: Dear Steve,

The symptoms you mention are common of Paronychia, an inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the fingernail that can be bacterial or fungal.

The symptoms of the bacterial form are:

- Pain/tenderness
- Redness
- Warmth and swelling of surroinding tissue
- White area produced by pus

The symptoms of the fungal form are:

- Redness/swelling around the fingernail
- No pain, warmrth, itching or pus

The bacterial infection can be caused due to an injury to the fingernail and a fungus or yeast cause the fungal infection. Treatment is usually based on topical antibiotic. Soaking hands in hot water 2-3 times a day can reduce the inflammation.

Prevention tips include:

- Protect hands from wetness
- Leave hangnails alone
- Avoid fingertip injury

A common ingrown nail can also create swelling, redness and a little bit of discomfort in the affected area.


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