Paronychia is an acute inflammation of the end of the fingers, usually near the nail. This infection can be of varying size and severity, but it can in all cases evolve into a collection of pus in the absence of treatment. It is usually caused by a bacterium, in most cases staphylococcus, and occurs after an injury accompanied by a wound. This infection is often mild, but it must be treated to avoid complications, including spreading to other tissues such as tendons, for example.
Paronychia may occur and evolve in three different stages. During the inflammatory stage, the area in question is hot, swollen and painful to the touch. In the second stage, the symptoms are much more severe, and the pain becomes stronger. The collection of pus is visible, and a mild fever may occur. During the third and last stage, the infection spreads to nearby tissue and causes inflammation of the skin, joints, tendons and bones.
The diagnosis is relatively easily made, as the infection is generally directly perceptible to the naked eye. The observation of the hand can pinpoint the infection. When the skin becomes raised with a small pocket of white pus that is very painful, it means that the infection has been present for a few days. If the infection lasts for a long time, you should carry out an X-ray to make sure it has not yet migrated to the surrounding tissue.
Simply proceed to clean the wound, if it is still visible. In addition, the application of moist dressings generally allows to decrease the development of a "mature" paronychia, preventing the passage from one stage to the next. In the case of major paronychia, a doctor may proceed with a small surgery (under local anesthesia in most cases) that consists of cleaning the wound by scraping out all the pus and any tissues that have been damaged.
To avoid developing paronychia, you must first take care of your nails. They should be cut regularly, but not too short, and if possible using suitable equipment (your own scissors or nail clippers).
In general, avoid wounds in ways like wearing gloves while gardening or tinkering. Catching early signs helps to avoid an evolution of the disease towards more advanced stages.