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Fingernail Pain Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

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Last updated August 27, 2020

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Understand your fingernail pain symptoms, including 2 causes & common questions.

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2 causes of fingernail pain

This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Nail infection (paronychia)

Paronychia is an infection of the skin of the fingers or toes, at the place where the skin folds down to meet the nail.

Acute, or sudden onset, paronychia is caused by the staphylococcus bacteria. The organism can gain entry if the nail is cracked, broken, bitten, or trimmed too closely.

Chronic, or ongoing, paronychia is caused by a fungus. Anyone whose work requires their hands to be wet much of the time is susceptible.

People with diabetes or a weakened immune system are more susceptible to nail infections.

Symptoms include sore, reddened, swollen skin around the nail, sometimes with pus collecting under the skin.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes skin culture to identify the organism involved.

Treatment for acute paronychia involves having a medical provider clean the wounded nail and drain any infection, and sometimes provide a course of antibiotics.

Treatment for the chronic form involves keeping the skin dry and using an antifungal medication on the affected nail.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: spontaneous finger pain, fingernail pain, fingernail swelling

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Chronic nail infection (paronychia)

Chronic Fingernail Infection (Paronychia) is caused by repeated damage to the cuticle (the thin layer of skin that covers the base of the nail). The cuticle protects the nail from infection, and when it's damaged again-and-again, it can predispose someone to infections of the nail (paronychia).

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: spontaneous finger pain, fingernail pain, cuticle loss, fingernail swelling

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Fingernail pain questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your pain.

Fingernail pain symptom checker

Questions your doctor may ask about fingernail pain

  • Did you injure your finger?
  • Do any of your body parts (e.g., toes, hands, ears) feel cold?
  • Did you get a manicure and/or pedicure in the past few days?
  • Did you recently injure your hand or fingers?

Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.

Fingernail pain questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your pain.

Fingernail pain symptom checker

Fingernail pain symptom checker statistics

People who have experienced fingernail pain have also experienced:

  • 15% Fingernail Changes
  • 10% Finger Pain
  • 10% Cut On The Finger

People who have experienced fingernail pain were most often matched with:

  • 50% Nail Infection (Paronychia)
  • 50% Chronic Nail Infection (Paronychia)

People who have experienced fingernail pain had symptoms persist for:

  • 28% Over a month
  • 27% Less than a week
  • 22% Less than a day

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant.

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