Infected Fingernail (Infected Hangnail) Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

The infected fingernail is a common problem facing many people in the world today. The finger infection can range from being mild to more serious case.  How do I know if my finger cut is infected? Well, you will notice a swollen infected finger in case you failed to treat an open wound on it.

In this post, you are going to learn some of the detailed information about the causes, symptoms, pictures, and treatment and prevention tips about an infected fingernail. You will also discover circumstances under which to go and see your doctor.

Note: You can also read my article about an infected toenail and various ways on how to treat it. It is important also to understand the underlying cause before opting for any form of treatment.


According to Medline Plus, infected fingernail occurs due to either bacterial or viral infection. Therefore, an early form of treatment will help to combat infection on the fingernails from spreading to other parts of the body.

Some of the potential causes of fingernail infection include:


This type of infection usually begins on the hangnail ten spread to the fingernails. It is mostly caused by bacteria and rarely by fungi. It punctures or injuries on the hangnails usually tempt people to bite the corners of the fingers.

Biting these corners by the result in open wounds that allow entry of bacteria from the skin or from the mouth after biting. The infection then spread from the cuticle to the fingernails.

Felon finger infection

 This is also a bacterial infection that usually begins from the finger pads. It may spread up to the fingernails. It starts as an open wound on the finger pad due to injuries. The open wound allows entry of bacteria deep into the fingertip pad.

Herpetic Whitlow

This is a viral infection that is caused by a form of STI such as the herpes simplex virus type I or II. This type of fingernail infection is common to people with oral or genital herpes. Some other groups of people that are also susceptible to this infection are dentists, hygienists, physicians, and nurses.


This type of infection on the fingernails occurs as a result of the bacterial entry into the fingertips via an open wound. This bacterial infection has the ability to spread from one part of the body to another through a blood carrying organism.

Infectious flexor tenosynovitis

This is an infection on the fingernails that occur when an injury or trauma happens at the fingertips. The trauma provides an entry point for bacteria causing infection on the cuticles and the deep tissues under the nails. The infection can spread along the tendon sheath making fingernails to be loose.

Deep space infection

This is an infection that occurs when you have a deep cut into the finger resulting in an open wound. The open wound provides an entry point of bacteria into the deep tissues of the nails. You may later develop a collar button abscess.


According to doctors on mayo clinic, most fingernail infections are usually pink or red and sometimes tender to touch.

How do I know if my finger cut is infected? Well, infected finger cut is usually marked by swelling, redness, increasing pain in the area, pus, and feeling unwell.

However, fingernail infections signs and symptoms do occur depending on the underlying causes. Here are some of the symptoms depending on their causes:

  • Felon: it may result in a swollen and painful fingertip. You may also notice a pool of pus under the skin
  • Cellulitis: it causes the appearance of red skin that is more sensitive and warm feeling when touched. It can also result in an infection under fingernail that is swollen.
  • Paronychia: it is mainly characterized by redness and swelling next to the fingernail. You may also notice a whitish or yellow discharge.
  • Herpetic whitlow: you will experience burning or itching sensation around the fingernails.
  • Deep space infection: the area around the fingernails may be red and very sensitive to touch. There will also be an accumulation of pus in the white spots.
  • Infectious flexor tenosynovitis: this infection is associated with the following signs; swellings, pain and tenderness over the tendons.


According to doctors on WebMD, infected fingernails treatment for bacterial infection involve the use of antibiotics and other medical care.  How long does it take for paronychia to go away? Well, paronychia is a bacterial infection that lasts for about 10 days and clears up after taking antibiotic prescriptions.

However, there are acute stages of fingernail infection that may require a doctor to undertake surgery on your finger in order to clear out the infection completely. This is common to the infections that result in fingertip swellings with pus inside.

According to Cleveland clinic, fingernail infection treatment varies from one person to another and it is advisable to consult your doctor for the best form of treatment.

What does Epsom salt do for wounds? Well, at home you can soak an infected finger in a salt solution to help get rid of bacteria causing the infection and also fasten the healing process. How long do you soak an infected finger in Epsom salts? It is advisable to take a minimum of 10 minutes but always consults your doctor.


It is recommended to follow safety measures that would prevent the formation of wounds around the fingertips leading to the infected fingernail.

It is therefore advisable to wear work protective gloves in order to prevent injuries. Wearing latex or vinyl gloves is mandatory if possible exposure to bodily fluids is expected.

Always maintain high hygiene of your hands and avoid biting your nails. It is also recommended to seek immediate medical treatment in case you suspect an infection.

When to See a Doctor

According to Mayo clinics, it is advisable to report any signs and symptoms of both fingernails and fingers infection to a doctor for early treatment in order to serious complications. The doctor will diagnose the symptoms and offer the best form of treatment.

Note: You may also read my article about how to treat big toenail pain using both home remedies and medical treatments.


  1. What’s to know about finger infection?
  2. Finger Infection:
  3. Finger Infection:
  4. Best Natural Treatments for Nail Cuticle Infections:
  5. How to Treat a Nail Infection: