Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Fingernail Infection - Yeast


  • Mild chronic infection of the skin fold next to the fingernail
  • The medical name is chronic paronychia

Call or Return If

  • Pus pocket appears
  • Redness lasts over 2 weeks
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic


  • Redness and swelling of nail skinfolds
  • Usually involves several fingers and entire nail fold (not just one spot)
  • Redness may increase after water contact
  • Nail folds may come apart from nail plates
  • Pain is mild or absent.
  • Pus pockets don't occur
  • Chronic problem present for weeks or months
  • Mainly occurs in teens and adults


  • Mainly from too much contact with water. Soapy water is even worse.
  • In children, often occurs in those who suck their thumb or fingers.
  • In older children and teens, usually occurs in those who swim a lot. May also be from water-logged hands from other activities (such as washing dishes).
  • Can become infected with yeast
  • Much less common than acute bacterial type

After Care Advice

  • This is a mild infection of the cuticle (skinfold around the fingernail).
  • The cause is usually too much contact in water.
  • In older children, swimming or washing dishes are common sources.
  • Usually, it can be treated at home
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Steroid Cream:
  • Use 1% hydrocortisone cream 3 times per day until it feels better. No prescription is needed.
  • Try to keep the area dry. Therefore, do not cover with a Bandaid.
Anti-Yeast Cream:
  • If redness isn't improved in 2 days, the reddened nail folds may also be infected. Most often, this is due to yeast.
  • Use Lotrimin cream. No prescription is needed.
  • Put it on the red area. Do this 3 times per day until redness is gone.
Thumb or Finger Sucking:
  • Finger or thumb sucking can cause the cuticle on that nail to become reddened. This can lead to infections.
  • These infections can't be cleared up until your child gives up thumb sucking.
  • Read about tips for stopping this bad habit.
Prevention of Recurrent Fingernail Infections:
  • After swimming, rinse the hands and use a moisturizing cream.
  • For washing dishes or other activities that require contact with water, wear waterproof gloves. Gloves are critical for working with soapy water.
  • Try to use soaps only if needed. (Reason: They dry out the cuticle).
What to Expect:
  • With treatment, the redness should go away in 1 week.
  • The hands should look normal by 2 weeks.
  • If you don't wear gloves, it may never go away.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2021 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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