Chronic paronychia
Chronic Paronychia

Chronic Paronychia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention | Chronic Paronychia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention – Paronychia is an infection of the skin surrounding the nail. Infected tissue may become tender, accompanied by pain and swelling. Conditions that can cause nail infections include nails that split easily or are brittle, cutting the nail too short (beyond the line between the nail and the fingernail), or trauma to the nail.

Paronychia can be chronic or acute, depending on the speed onset (time of the onset of a disease or when symptoms first began to be felt), duration, and infectious agent. This article will focus on chronic paronychia. Here are the facts you need to know.

What is chronic paronychia?

Chronic paronychia can appear on the fingers or toes, and comes on slowly. It can last for several weeks and recur frequently.

Chronic paronychia is often due to more than an infectious agent, often bacterial infection and Candida fungus. This condition is more common in people who continuously work with water.

Constantly wet skin and excessive soaking interfere with the cuticle natural barrier. This allows bacteria and mold or yeast to grow and enter the skin to develop an infection.

What causes chronic paronychia?

An infection can occur when the skin around the nail breaks down, allowing germs to enter.

Bacteria and fungi can cause paronychia, and the most common cause is Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria.

Common causes of skin breakdown around the nails include:

  • Nail biting habit.
  • Cutting nails too short.
  • Manicure.
  • Excessive exposure of hands to moisture, for example, frequent contact with water, including finger sucking habits.
  • Ingrown nails, which is a condition when the tip of the nail grows under the skin.

Chronic paronychia symptoms

Chronic and acute paronychia symptoms are very similar. The biggest difference is speed onset and duration of infection.

Chronic infections come on slowly and last for weeks, while acute infections develop quickly and don’t last long.

Both infections can cause the symptoms below:

  • Redness of the skin around the nails.
  • Softness of the skin around the nails.
  • Blisters filled with pus.
  • Changes in the shape, color, or texture of the nails.
  • The nail detaches from the skin underneath.

Who is at high risk for paronychia?

Some people are more at risk for paronychia, such as:

  • Woman.
  • People with diabetes.
  • People whose hands are often wet, such as cleaning service.
  • People with certain skin conditions, e.g. Dermatitis.
  • People with weak immune systems.


In most cases, doctors can easily diagnose paronychia through a physical examination. They will also ask about your medical history and find out risk factors, such as diabetes.

In some cases, the doctor may need a sample of the pus, which is then sent to a laboratory to check whether the cause is bacterial or fungal.

Chronic paronychia treatment

Paronychia treatment can vary, depending on the severity and whether it is chronic or acute.

If the infection is caused by bacteria, the doctor will recommend antibiotics such as dicloxacillin or clindamycin. If infection caused by fungus, then the doctor will prescribe antifungal drugs, usually topical medications, including clotrimazole or ketoconazole.

Chronic paronychia may require treatment for couple of weeks or months. It is important to keep hands dry. If the work requires the sufferer to come into contact with water or be exposed to bacteria, it is recommended to take time off.

The doctor may also drain the pus. A local anesthetic will be used, then the doctor will open the nail fold to insert gauze, which will help drain the pus.


The way to prevent chronic paronychia is to prevent nail infections. What you can do include:

  • Avoid biting the nail or a small piece of torn skin near the fingernail (hangnail). Don’t scrape the cuticles.
  • Avoid cutting nails too short. When trimming the cuticle, avoid cutting it too close to the nail fold.
  • Keep clean by washing your hands and keeping your nails clean. Use a mild soap that does not irritate the skin.
  • Use moisturizer on nail folds and cuticles if your skin is dry. Excessive dryness can cause cracked skin.
  • Wear waterproof gloves if you work with chemicals or your hands will be wet for a long time.

That’s the information about chronic paronychia, an infection in the skin around the nail due to a bacterial or fungal infection that occurs continuously. If you experience these symptoms, consult a doctor so that you can get the right treatment.


Last Updated on March 19, 2022 Reviewed by Market Health Beauty Team

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