Paronychia — or more commonly felon or whitlow — is a bacterial or fungal infection of the nail folds. The infection usually starts when the cuticles have been compromised either by a person compulsively picking them, or through trauma. This allows pathogens (bacteria, fungus, etc.) to enter the skin under and around the nail bed and cause infection.
Several types of pathogens can cause Paronychia:
- Herpes Simplex — especially prevalent in dentists who treat patients with cold sores, where the herpes virus spreads to the nail folds
- Tuberculosis — especially prevalent in prosectors (medical technicians in charge of dissections)
- Nail Fungus — yeast (candida) is probably the most common pathogen to cause Paronychia
In rare cases, Paronychia in association with a scaly rash elsewhere on the skin can indicate a case of lung cancer.
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