Paronychia is a viral infection that develops around the cuticle of the fingernail or toenail. The causes include biting your fingernails or standing in water for long periods of time. The condition first appears as tenderness or soreness around the cuticle. Pockets of pus develop along the sides of the nail and can become quite painful. As the infection progresses, the finger or toe becomes swollen and, in extreme conditions, cannot move. At this stage, consult a doctor immediately.

Treatment for Minor Paronychia

For minor cases of paronychia, the skin around the cuticle becomes sensitive, and pockets of pus appear under the nail. These pockets become very painful; when broken, the pus drains and the pain is relieved. Use a tissue to absorb the pus so it doesn't spread to other nails. Wash the hand or foot with warm water and soap immediately, and apply hydrogen peroxide to the area. Keep the wound clean and dry, use the peroxide daily, and the infection will clear up in about two weeks.

Home Remedy for Paronychia

To draw out the infection, soak hands or feet in 1 quart apple cider vinegar with 1 quart warm water for 30 minutes. Add 2 drops oregano oil (an antifungal agent) to 1 drop olive oil and apply to the infected area daily for two weeks to kill the infection and keep the paronychia from spreading.

Treatment for Severe Paronychia

For severe cases of paronychia, the condition will progress for several weeks until the nail discolors and becomes very thick and the surface of the nail becomes very rough. The infection may spread from the nail into the finger or toe. Swelling ensues, and the finger or toe becomes immobile.

Consult a doctor immediately for treatment. In the most serious cases, an abscess will form and must be lanced and treated by a physician. A doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic medicine and cream as part of the treatment.