Andrea Bernhard, MD

Dr. Bernhard became a physician in order to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Her goal is to treat every patient with respect and dignity, and to deliver the highest quality care. Dr. Bernhard has lived in Hawaii for 10 years, and even completed her residency at the University of Hawaii. In her own words, “I get to care for wonderful people in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”


Paronychia (Bacterial Nail Infection)

In brief, paronychia is a skin infection that occurs next to nails. We also know this condition as whitlow. Bacteria or fungus in the area may lead to infection. In addition, the condition causes the skin near the nail to become tender and swollen. If untreated, the nail itself could come infected. Occasionally, pus may form. Thus, a bacterial nail infection may result. The article will further explain paronychia.

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Pay attention to signs and symptoms of paronychia or bacterial nail infection.  To do so, be aware of the following-

  • To start, if the infection is painful and sudden, Staphylococcus aureus bacteria could be to blame.
  • Additionally, if symptoms develop slowly, fungus could be to blame. Yeast and Candida are two types of fungi that cause fungal infections. Typically, it could develop into a chronic condition if you do not seek treatment.
  • Thirdly, less common causes are other microbes. These may include viruses and other types of fungi.

Doctors may prescribe antibiotics to combat the bacterial nail infection. Yet, if the infection is from yeast or fungus, anti-fungal medicines may work, too. On rare occasions, doctors may need to perform a minor surgery to drain out collected pus.

Causes of a bacterial nail infection

To note, some infections can happen with no reason. Other conditions thrive from bacteria and may lead to infections.


To start, hands in water may increase the risk of infection. Especially hands in soapy water. The nail fold may have damage from constant washing. Thus, people with jobs requiring constant washing are prone to the infection. For example, cleaners, bartenders, and fishermen. Beauticians, dairy farmers and dish washers are also examples as well.


In addition, if you have open cuts, there is a higher chance for the germs to get inside your skin. Broken skin can be from an injury. Also, people with a habit of biting nails may get an infection, too. Other conditions may lead to infection, for example:

  • Firstly, the presence of splinters may lead to a bacterial nail infection.
  • Secondly, if you have a manicure procedure executed poorly. This is from pushing the cuticles too far back.
  • Thirdly, pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema or contact dermatitis, for instance.


Lastly, gloves prevent ventilation. Also, gloves gather moisture. Additionally, it also encourages the growth of bacteria, too. Be sure to use cotton-lined rubber gloves. This is to minimize the effect of water on your hands. Especially do this if you have to keep your hands in water for long periods of time. Also, artificial nail extensions also cause germs to multiply as well.

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