Chronic Paronychia With Joint Pain
Paronychia is a skin infection that occurs around a person’s toenails or fingernails. This infection commonly affects the skin on the sides of a nail and the cuticle or the area of skin located at the nail base. Chronic paronychia persists or redevelops after it has cleared up and may affect one or more nails at the same time. People with this condition may develop complications such as joint pain.
Patients with paronychia usually have redness and painful swelling of the skin on the cuticle or the side of the nail. Hangnails and other skin injuries close to a nail may develop these signs of infection. Individuals with chronic paronychia may notice that an affected nail may separate from surrounding skin and become unusually hard, thick or deformed. Acute paronychia usually affects one nail and causes pus filled abscesses to grow at the base or side of an affected nail.
Joint Pain and Other Complications
A patient with chronic paronychia may develop joint pain if the infection spreads from the skin and nail into deeper tissue and into the patient’s bloodstream. Other complications that may occur with a spreading paronychia infection include muscle pain and fever. Deep tissue infections from paronychia have resulted in the loss of toes, fingers and limbs in extreme cases. People who develop complications from a case of paronychia should speak with a doctor as soon as possible.
Causes and Risks
Paronychia is caused by a bacterial infection, a fungal infection or a combination of both types of infection. Diabetes patients and people who keep their hands in water or expose them to chemicals for an extended period of time have an increased risk of getting this kind of infection. An infection can develop after an individual pulls on a hangnail, bites or picks on a fingernail or develops an ingrown toenail. Dishwashers, bartenders and food handlers have an increased chance of developing paronychia.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A physician usually diagnoses paronychia after a physical examination, and he may send tissue samples to a laboratory to identify the fungus or bacteria that has caused an infection. Patients with chronic paronychia may receive a prescription for an antifungal medication if the infection is caused by a fungus or they may receive an antibiotic prescription to treat a bacterial infection. Paronychia patients may need to wear gloves to protect their fingers.
People can reduce the likelihood that they will contract chronic paronychia if they refrain from touching chemicals and keep their hands dry. Individuals should not wear the same pair of socks for more than one day. People should not wear the same shoes for two consecutive days, so any moisture in their shoes has time to dry out. Nail damage can be prevented if people keep their fingernails and toenails trimmed and smooth.