How to Get Rid of a Hangnail Infection
Hangnails are small pieces of skin on finger or toe nails. They are not actually part of the nails, but they can easily get infected and cause a lot of pain. They can be prevented by keeping the hands or the feet properly hydrated at all times because they actually form when the skin dries. Hangnails are also worsened by biting the nails or tearing them. Pulling hangnails can leave you exposed to a hangnail infection because they usually come off with a piece of healthy skin. Harmful bacteria can enter the small wound that forms there and can cause the infected hangnail.
Generally speaking, a hangnail infection is not dangerous, but the risk of spreading still exists. It seems to be the most common hand infection in the United States. Sometimes an infected hangnail might not require going to the doctor. However, in severe cases, prescribed oral antibiotics might be needed in order to kill the bacteria that caused it. Staphylococcus aureus is usually responsible for hangnail infection and doctors usually put a diagnosis based on clinical symptoms, without any laboratory tests. Only when the hangnail infection is very resistant, pus is taken out and analyzed in order to find out exactly the name of the bacteria that needs to be eliminated.
Most people decide to take care of an infected hangnail at home and to use topical antibiotic creams. This might work, but in case the symptoms don't subside and the infection sore throat no fever seems to get worse, the doctor's opinion might be necessary. Only a medical professional can decide the course of antibiotics that is needed in order to cure a hangnail infection.
When trying to heal an infected hangnail at home you should focus on trying to eliminate the pus that forms there. Make sure you maintain a proper hygiene and that you wash your infected nail with soap and water several times a day. Soaking the affected nail in warm water is also of help because it will help drain the pus and it will also make the pain subside. After soaking the nail in water, apply some antibiotic cream. Some people claim that it is best to squeeze the infected hangnail after soaking it in water in order to facilitate the expelling of the pus. Others argue that this would do no good and it will only cause additional damage to the tissue. They say that a hangnail infection should be allowed to heal with only the help of antibiotic creams and warm soaks, without interfering with it in any way. The antibiotic cream needs to be applied several times each day until the infection is healed. In some rare cases, an infected hangnail can aggravate and the doctor might need to make a small incision in order to drain the pus.