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What is a paronychia infection?

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Paronychia is an acute or chronic skin infection that attacks the area near the nails, according to Healthline. It results from bacteria, fungus or yeast. Acute paronychia occurs when trauma resulting from activities such as nail biting, manicures and pedicures exposes the skin to bacterial infection, but chronic paronychia typically occurs when candida yeast attacks the skin around the nails. Though rare, chronic paronychia might also result from bacteria and other fungi.

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Irrespective of the type of paronychia, common symptoms include skin redness and tenderness near the nails, loss of nails, and change in nail appearance including their color and shape, notes Healthline. Those with paronychia may also develop blisters that contain pus and rarely develop complications such as abscess and irreversible nail shape change, states MedlinePlus. Individuals should seek medical attention when the symptoms fail to respond to treatment or when the condition causes chills, painful muscles and joints, and fever among other symptoms.

The treatment for paronychia depends on the severity of the condition, Healthline reports. Home treatment such as soaking the skin in hot water followed by antibiotic ointment application can cure less serious acute paronychia. Oral antibiotic prescriptions and blister cutting and draining are applicable for severe acute paronychia. Treatment options for chronic paronychia include antifungal medications and partial removal of the affected nail through surgery.

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