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An infection on the skin fold at the bottom or side of the nail.  The afflicted area becomes painful and swollen, and there can be a build up of pus.

Paronychia can be acute (caused by bacteria) or chronic (mostly caused by CANDIDA ALBICANS).  The condition is most frequently seen in women, especially those with poor circulation, and whose work involves constant contact with water.  It also affects people with skin disease involving the nail fold. 

Treatment is with antibiotic drugs or antifungal drugs.  If pus has built up in the area, it can need to be drained surgically.  To stop the occurrence of paronychia, gloves should be worn for tasks that involve putting the hands in water, and the hands should be dried carefully after washing.

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