Photo: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
This can be a worrisome world, but picking at your cuticles doesn’t help -- and it can leave them ragged, sore and even infected. An infected fingernail is unattractive and painful; if you don’t get it treated, the infection can spread faster than a juicy rumor and cause just as much trouble.
Infections happen when bacteria enter through a cut or tear in your skin. The most common finger infection is called paronychia. It usually starts with an injury, and the infection happens when the open wound is invaded by bacteria, a specific yeast or even a fungus. Symptoms include red swelling that hurts, and there might also be blisters. Some kinds of paronychia show up quickly, while others can develop more slowly.
Clean it Out
Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide can damage your skin, so fill a small bowl with povidone-iodine. This is a topical antiseptic that you can get at any drugstore in the first aid section. Soak your infected finger for 10 to 15 minutes and then pat it dry with clean gauze or a paper towel. This should kill any bacteria inside of the infection. If that doesn’t help, you may have a fungus. The experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend soaking your finger in a mixture of one part warm water to two parts vinegar for 15 to 20 minutes.
Cover it Up
Cover the infection with a self-adhesive bandage. Keeping new dirt and bacteria away from your infection will help it heal. You can use a bandage that has antibiotics already on it, but you don’t have to. Wrap the bandage loosely so you don’t cut off any circulation. Change the bandage at least once a day and any time you get it wet.
When to Worry
Infections can spread, so if your finger gets red and swollen, feels hot or starts oozing pus, get yourself to the doctor, girl. Some infections can only be treated by antibiotics that you take internally, and you need a prescription for those.