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Fingernail Infection

Brief Version

What is a fingernail infection?

When your child has a fingernail infection, you usually see:

  • a large pimple where the cuticle and the fingernail meet
  • redness and tenderness around this area
  • sometimes, pus may drain from this area, too.

The infection can be caused by bacteria or yeast.

How can I take care of my child?

It helps to soak your child's sore finger in warm water and liquid antibacterial soap.

  • Soak your child's sore finger three times a day for 10 minutes.
  • Do this for at least 4 days, or longer if it has not healed.

If your child has a bacterial infection:

  • Put antibiotic ointment on the sore area 6 times a day.
  • Cover it with a bandage.

Open any large pimple. Here's how:

  • Carefully clean a needle with rubbing alcohol or a flame.
  • Gently poke the needle into the large pimple.
  • Let the pus drain out.
  • You may need to gently squeeze so that the pus comes out.

If your child has a yeast infection:

  • Put the medicine prescribed by your doctor on the sore 3 times a day.
  • Keep the area dry.
  • Do not cover it with a bandage.

You can help keep your child from getting an infection again:

  • If you notice hangnails, cut them off with nail clippers.
  • Tell your child not to pick or chew at hangnails.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • Your child gets a fever.
  • A red streak spreads beyond the cuticle.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • The infection has not gotten better after 48 hours.
  • The infection is not totally cleared up in 7 days.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-03-02
Last reviewed: 2006-03-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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