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What Are the Causes of a Nail Bed Infection?

20th Sep 2023 | 0 comments

Nail bed infections can be painful and frustrating, often leaving individuals wondering how they occurred. Whether you’re dealing with a nail bed infection or know someone who is, understanding the causes can be crucial for prevention and effective treatment

In this article, we shall explore the causes of nail bed infections and what you can do to treat them in Singapore.

Bacterial Infections

One common cause of nail bed infections is bacteria. Bacteria are present all around us, including on our skin and nails. When these bacteria find their way into a small cut, crack, or break in the skin around the nail, they can cause an infection.

Staphylococcus and Streptococcus are two bacteria commonly responsible for nail bed infections. Symptoms of bacterial nail bed infections may include redness, swelling, pain, and the presence of pus.

Prevention tip: Keeping your nails clean, avoiding biting them, and promptly treating any cuts or wounds around the nails can reduce the risk of bacterial infections.

Fungal Infections

Fungal nail infections, also called onychomycosis, make up more than half of all nail problems, affecting about 5.5% of people. They can harm the toenails, fingernails, or both. Fungal nail infections occur when fungi invade the nail bed and surrounding tissue. Fungi thrive in moist and warm environments, making nails susceptible to infection. 

Fungal nail infections are often characterised by discolouration, thickening of the nail, and crumbling at the edges.

Prevention Tip: To prevent fungal nail infections, maintain good foot hygiene, trim your nails, and avoid walking barefoot in public places.


Accidental trauma is a significant cause of nail bed injury and infection. Nail bed injuries can happen from accidents like slamming your finger in a door to more severe accidents like a heavy object falling on your nail. 

When the pin is damaged or lifted away from the nail bed, it creates an entry point for bacteria or fungi to cause an infection.

Prevention Tip: Be cautious when your fingers or toes might be at risk of injury, and wear appropriate protective gear if necessary.

Ingrown Nails

Ingrown nails are a common nail bed disorder and occur when the nail’s edge grows into the surrounding skin, often leading to irritation and infection. Ingrown nails can result from improper nail trimming, wearing tight shoes, or having naturally curved nails. They are painful and can quickly become infected if not treated promptly.

Prevention Tip: Cut your nails straight across instead of curving towards the corners of your nail bed, and avoid cutting them too short to prevent ingrown nails. 

Compromised Immune System

A weaker immune system puts you at a higher risk of developing nail bed infections. Conditions such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders, or those undergoing chemotherapy can compromise the immune system, making it challenging for the body to fight off infections.

Prevention Tip: If you have a weakened immune system, taking extra precautions to protect your nails and overall health is essential. Regularly check your nails for any signs of infection and seek prompt medical attention if you notice any issues.

Signs of a Nail Bed Infection

  1. Pain and Discomfort

Nail bed infections often cause pain and discomfort. You may experience throbbing or aching sensations around the affected nail. The pain can range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the infection.

  1. Redness and Swelling

Inflamed nail beds become red and swollen. The skin around the nail may appear puffy and tender to the touch. The redness and swelling can extend beyond the immediate area of the nail.

  1. Pus or discharge

The presence of pus or discharge is a telltale sign of infection. You may notice yellow or greenish fluid oozing under the nail or surrounding skin. This discharge may have a foul odour.

  1. Increased Sensitivity

Infected nail beds can become more sensitive to touch or pressure. You may find it uncomfortable to pressure the affected finger or toe.

  1. Changes in Mail Appearance

Depending on the type and severity of the infection, you may notice changes in the appearance of the affected nail. These changes can include:

  • Discolouration
  • Thickening
  • Crumbling or brittle nails

Treatment of Nail Bed Infection

Nail bed infections will be treated according to the cause and severity of the condition. Home remedies like warm soaks and keeping the area clean may suffice in mild cases.

However, more severe infections may require prescription antibiotics for bacterial infections or antifungal medications for fungal infections.

In cases of trauma or ingrown nails, a healthcare professional may need to intervene, potentially by draining pus, removing a portion of the nail, or even performing surgery if the infection is severe.

Nail Bed Infection Treatment in Singapore

Understanding the causes of nail bed infections and taking preventive measures is crucial for maintaining healthy nails. If you encounter a nail bed infection, don’t hesitate to seek professional treatment, especially if it becomes severe or doesn’t improve with home remedies. 

Our well-trained healthcare professionals at Spire Orthopaedic can effectively treat nail bed infections. Contact us for a consultation.