Acute and chronic paronychia of the hand

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2014 Mar;22(3):165-74. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-22-03-165.


Acute and chronic infections and inflammation adjacent to the fingernail, or paronychia, are common. Paronychia typically develops following a breakdown in the barrier between the nail plate and the adjacent nail fold and is often caused by bacterial or fungal pathogens; however, noninfectious etiologies, such as chemical irritants, excessive moisture, systemic conditions, and medications, can cause nail changes. Abscesses associated with acute infections may spontaneously decompress or may require drainage and local wound care along with a short course of appropriate antibiotics. Chronic infections have a multifactorial etiology and can lead to nail changes, including thickening, ridging, and discoloration. Large, prospective studies are needed to identify the best treatment regimen for acute and chronic paronychia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Drainage
  • Humans
  • Medical Illustration
  • Paronychia / diagnosis*
  • Paronychia / etiology
  • Paronychia / therapy*
  • Risk Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antifungal Agents