Collections of pus under the nail plate can be satisfactorily opened and drained, without anesthesia, by applying a small heated cautery tip1 to the portion of the nail overlying the pus. In an instant, a small opening is formed and the pus escapes. The immediate relief of pain is gratifying.
This procedure is a modification of that used by a colleague, Dr. R. E. L. Holt, for the treatment of subungual hematoma. He heats a small wire (piece of paper clip) to white heat and burns an opening in the nail plate, releasing the blood.
In some instances cautery drainage of subungual abscess will not suffice. Cure will be obtained in such cases only by removal of a portion of or the entire nail.
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SAUNDERS TS. CAUTERY DRAINAGE OF SUBUNGUAL ABSCESS. Arch Derm Syphilol. 1947;56(2):269. doi:10.1001/archderm.1947.01520080129017
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