Last reviewed 11/2022

Paronychia is inflammation involving the folds of tissue around the finger nail or toe nail (1):

  • disruption of the seal (the cuticle) between the proximal nail fold and the nail plate allows an entrance to the invading organism (1,2)
  • pus accumulates between the cuticle and the nail matrix. The area may be swollen, red and tender.

It is the commonest type of hand infection, accounting for about a third of Accident & Emergency hand infections, most progressing to some form of surgical intervention.

Infection involving the eponychium is termed eponychia; extension of infection from one lateral fold to the other is termed a run-around abscess.

Non infectious causes include contact irritants and excessive moisture (2).

Clinically, paronychia can be divided into:

  • acute paronychia
  • chronic paronychia (1)

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