Why does it hurt under my nail

What is a nail bed or nail wall inflammation?

Nails are exposed to dryness and wetness, heat and cold as well as friction and sometimes chemicals. As powerful as they appear, they are sensitive.

Nail bed or nail wall inflammation?

An inflammation of the nail walls, medically Paronychia or finger circulation, spreads over the nail wall and the nail fold. If the nail bed itself is affected and pus collects under the nail, it is a problem Panaritium in front. The transitions between these two forms can be fluid. If the cuticle or nail wall is damaged, germs and pathogens can penetrate inside and cause inflammation. Typical germs are bacteria such as staphylococci, yeasts such as Candida albicans or herpes viruses.

Symptoms: red, warm and throbbing

Typical symptoms of nail bed or nail wall inflammation are:

  • destroyed cuticle
  • inflammatory swelling that causes the wall of the nails to rise
  • Redness, overheating, throbbing throbbing, and pain along the edge of the nail
  • purulent secretion that comes out especially under pressure
  • inflammation-related disorder of nail growth

If there is a fungal infection of the nail bed, the nail can become discolored. Later it can also stand out and become crumbly. Diabetics and patients with peripheral vascular disease are particularly susceptible. Some medicines used to treat cancer or immunosuppressants can also make the nail bed more likely to get inflamed. People who come in frequent contact with chemicals and water are also often affected.


Possible triggers for a bacterial or fungal infection can be:

  • neglected nail care
  • small wounds, for example from cuts or splinters
  • ingrown nails
  • Nail biting or sucking on your fingers
  • unsuitable footwear
  • chronic irritation of the hand from chemicals and water

Visual diagnosis and tactile findings

Your doctor can make the diagnosis based on your symptoms, a medical history, and the appearance of the affected fingers or toes. A tactile finding often reveals whether there is an inflammation of the nail bed. In people with circulatory disorders or diabetes mellitus, paronychia can lead to greater symptoms - for example, an inflammation of the nail bed can put the entire hand or foot at risk. Your doctor will take this into account and recommend appropriate treatment. If surgery is necessary, your GP can refer you to the dermatologist or surgeon.

Treatment options

Depending on the pathogen, the type and course of the inflammation, your doctor will recommend different treatments. Warm finger baths, which promote blood circulation, can often help. Your doctor may then treat the affected area with antibiotics or antifungals. If the infection is purulent, your doctor will need to drain the pus. To do this, your finger is anesthetized locally, the secretion is drained with a scalpel and the wound is treated with antibiotic or fungicidal agents. If you often suffer from purulent paronychia or if it is in an advanced stage, the lateral part of the nail can be surgically removed. There is also the option of straightening the nail plate with a metal correction brace so that the nail does not grow in again. Important: If you have an ingrown nail, see your doctor as soon as possible. Early treatment can usually prevent complications and complex therapies.

This is how you can prevent infection

Here's how you can prevent inflammation:

  • Good nail care: Cut fingernails in an arch, while toenails are as straight and short as possible. Wearing suitable and comfortable shoes will help prevent ingrown nails. Regular medical foot care by a podiatrist is also recommended.
  • Skin care: Hand and nail care lotions can reduce the risk of cracks and minor injuries to the nails.
  • Disinfection: If the nail wall is cracked or damaged, disinfecting gels or ointments containing polyvidone-iodine often help.
  • Protection against moisture and chemicals: Wear protective gloves when cleaning with detergents. Avoid excessive contact with chemicals and moisture.


Nail biting can also cause inflammation of the nail bed. Certain nail creams, such as medicated bitter varnishes, can help to break the habit.