Many of us have already heard of nail fungus and even the scientific term for it known as onychomycosis, but not many people know what paronychia is and that it is also a common nail infection.

As far as paronychia goes, it is a form of nail infection that occurs alongside the edges of the nails (both toenails and fingernails). If left untreated this infection can not only spread to the entire nail, but it can also infect the entire toe or finger.

So what is the cause of this you ask? As with many infections, it begins with bacteria. The bacteria on the skin enters the skin and goes around the circumference of the nail, which is usually due to damage by trauma. The most common examples of damage to the nail from trauma are from nail biting, sucking the finger, direct contact with chemicals or chemical irritants, and frequent dish washing. Fungal nails can also cause paronychia. Furthermore, this infection can spread from body part to body part, meaning the feet to the hands or vice versa.

The signs usually begin with redness and/or swelling of the skin around the nail. It can be very sore and painful, as well exhibit discoloration of a yellow or green color, which signifies pus growing under.

In terms of treatment, the best solution is visiting a podiatrist or dermatologist. These types of infections should never be left untreated and or self treatment. If you have any of the above symptoms described, contact your doctor immediately.