Acute paronychia presents with the sudden onset of pain, inflammation, swelling and tenderness in the nail fold. It is a common problem that may occur at any age. It is a caused by a bacterial infection, usually Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) or a streptococcus, that gains access through some breach of the nail fold.
As a result, acute paronychia is more common in people who bite their nails, those with a skin condition such as eczema or people who continually have wet hands such as cleaners and gardeners. People with diabetes are also more susceptible to the condition. An early cellulitis may progress to form and abscess.
Initially, analgesics, warm soaks or compresses of half strength hydrogen peroxide may ease the symptoms but once there is abscess formation, incision and drainage is required under a digital nerve block. Antibiotics are not usually required to treat this conditions unless a spreading cellulitis develops. Penicillin is generally sufficient, unless dealing with a case of MRSA.