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 3 times a day for 15 minutes.
- Do this for at least 4 days, or longer if it has not healed.
If your child has a bacterial infection:
- Buy antibiotic ointment at the drugstore. Put ointment on the sore area 4 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 Lotrimin cream or ointment 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, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-22
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02
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 health care professional.