Infected Fingernail

How to Care for an Infected Fingernail

While an infected fingernail is not often a serious problem, it can be annoying and painful. In order to understand how you can get an infected fingernail, it’s important to understand exactly what fingernails are made of and what kinds of fingernail problems develop.

One of the most interesting things about fingernails is the fact that as far as the body goes, they have no specific job. Because of their location however, they come in contact with a lot of objects and substances which can be damaging. Think about all of the times you use your fingers every day to do work or tasks at home.

You can have some bad luck with your fingernails because of genetics. You really can inherit bad fingernails. Most of the time, however, you have a damaged or infected fingernail because you do not take proper care of your nails. Many problems come from not eating nutritious foods and not keeping your fingernails clean.

If you have an infected fingernail, it means the skin around your fingernail has become infected and swollen. Don’t just ignore the problem or you could develop a serious infection of the whole finger. Your fingernail problem is going to fall into one of six types of fingernail ailments.

These include paronychia, cellulitis, felon, herpetic whitlow, flexor tenosynovitis, or deep space infections. Some of these affect the fingernail directly and some peripherally. Paronychia is when the skin right beside the nail becomes red and swollen. The area will be painful to the touch and can be caused by a number of conditions, including fungi or bacteria. The most common cause is trauma to the skin. This can come from chemicals in dishwashing and cleaning detergents, biting your nails, or injury.

Cellulitis can appear as a red area around your fingernail. It is caused by a bacterial infection. It most often occurs when you have had a break in your skin and bacteria got into the opening. This type of infected fingernail can be serious and spread to the lymph nodes. If you have AIDS or diabetes or a compromised immune system from some other disease, you could even run the risk of death. If you have cellulitis, you need treatment from a medical professional.

Felon is an infection of the finger tip which can involve the fingernail as well. You will have a lot of pain and the tip of your finger will swell. This is a condition which requires treatment with antibiotics. Your doctor might also want to drain pus out of it. Felons can be caused by splinters, cuts or other skin damage. Paronychia and felon cause 33% of all finger and hand problems.

Herpetic whitlow can cause an infected fingertip which red, swollen and painful. The site will look like a blister filled with cloudy fluid. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) is the form of herpes that causes sores in the mouth. It also can cause sores on the end of the fingertip leading to an infected fingernail. This condition must be treated with antibiotics so a visit to the doctor is a must. Small children with HSV1in their mouth can get herpetic whitlow from sucking their fingers.

Both flexor tenosynovitis and deep space infections cause finger swelling and pain. They can affect the fingernail. So can all kinds of fungus infections.

See your doctor anytime you have an infected fingernail which involves open skin around the nail, swelling, tenderness and pus. You can deter fingernail infections by keeping your fingernails short. File them so the ends are smooth and thin. Do not grow extra long nails or bite your nails. If you do get an infection, scrub your nail and under the front of the nail with antiseptic soap. A toothbrush works well for this treatment.