How is paronychia diagnosed?

Updated: Oct 09, 2020
  • Author: Elizabeth M Billingsley, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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The diagnosis of paronychia is based primarily on patient history and physical examination. Some laboratory studies, however, can be useful. These include the following:

  • Gram staining and/or culture - To help identify a bacterial cause of fluctuant paronychia

  • Potassium hydroxide (KOH) 5% smears - To help diagnose paronychia caused by a candidal infection

  • Tzanck smears - If herpetic whitlow is suspected

  • See Workup for more detail.

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