I am beginning to experience a pain just underneath the nail of my 3rd finger, it's my exam in 2 days. I have no idea how I managed to do this, but its making it very difficult to play the piano.

The pain is mainly at the end of the nail part, underneath it.

Does anyone know a way to help it heal before the exam? I've had this once before and it lasted a few days, I'm very worried about my performance being affected by it.

  • 5
    Please go see a doctor. It is unlikely that you will find a person with the medical knowledge to help you on this forum.
    – Neil Meyer
    Mar 8, 2016 at 11:57
  • 1
    I suspect that this is off topic as it is about a medical issue.
    – Neil Meyer
    Mar 8, 2016 at 11:58

4 Answers 4


One possibility:

Examine under the nail with a very strong magnifying glass. I once managed to get a very short section of hair lodged under the end of a nail. This happened after I had a haircut. It is surprisingly uncomfortable if it irritates the nailbed.

In my case, removing the tiny bit of hair cured the problem almost immediately.


You could for temporary only relief put something like Voltaren Emugel on the finger before the concert. Prescription in the US. Other things like Bengay or Tiger Balm would work but are more oily and not as easy to clean. Topicals like Voltaren can be useful as opposed to tablets (aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc.) as they are less stressful on the stomach.

However, going over the nail with a magnifying glass is good too; getting someone else with a better angle can help.

  • This is dangerous territory. I suspect the OP has an infection of the finger nail. We have no idea what would happen if you put Voltaren on it.
    – Neil Meyer
    Mar 8, 2016 at 12:11
  • Generic pain relief like aspirin/paracetemol/ibuprofen should be safe though. Not to cure it, but to alleviate pain for the performance... assuming it's not an actual injury which could be worsened by continuing to play, which sounds rather unlikely.
    – Mr. Boy
    Mar 8, 2016 at 12:22

If I can give any advice it probably is to go see a doctor. I suspect what you have is the following. I often get it when I grow my nails out to play finger picking with.

Paronychia Paronychia is an infection of the tissues surrounding a fingernail or toenail. In most instances, the finger is infected by Staphylococcus aureus, a common staph bacteria, or by the fungus Candida. Infections may progress to full-blown, painful abscesses. If an infection persists without treatment, there is risk of more serious infection and permanent damage to the nail.

Usually, I just cut the nail very short and that takes the pressure off and gives it time to heal but please don't take my advice as dogma.



There is much bad advice for pianists in this discussion! First, a doctor must be consulted as soon as possible as there can be pus which must be drained for fastest healing, and to prevent infection from going deeper and causing an abscess in the finger pulp. The latter could eventually require fingertip amputation. Second, pianists must be very careful that nail corners are filed round and smooth every time you trim your nails. A sharp corner can cut into the cuticle and cause the paronychia. Avoid cutting nails too short as this makes it difficult to file the corners to be nicely rounded. I have literally left blood on the keyboard after trimming my nails and not filing the corners sufficiently round. After seeing a doctor, keep a triple antibiotic ointment on the area. Do NOT continue playing until the nail corners have been filed smooth and the pain and infection subsides. Do NOT use pain relievers which may allow you to continue causing more injury.

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