Caring for an Infected or Ingrown Toenail
By Anna Hronek, DPM
Jun 4, 2018
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
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An infected toenail is a slow pain that’s easy to ignore. That is, until it isn’t. Whether the infection is caused by an ingrown nail or because of an injury, it’s hard to ignore when your toenail is a red, infected, sore mess. If you feel that you have an infection in your toe, you should follow up with a podiatrist or visit your local InstaCare or urgent care clinic as soon as possible.
Your toenail can become infected in a number of ways, including fungal infections or even calluses caused by your shoes. One of the most common types of toenail infections is an ingrown toenail. If your toenail is ingrown, it means the edges of your toenail start to grow into the skin next to your toenail. Ingrown toenails can be red and inflamed, sore, and may even be filled with pus.
The most common causes of an ingrown toenails include:
Infections on your toes may be common if you have diabetes or similar conditions that cause poor circulation or a weakened immune system. Diabetics should check their feet often and have regular appointments with a podiatrist because they may not feel the pain of a toe infection until the problem is severe.
An infected toenail comes with pretty specific symptoms. They include:
You can do several things at home to treat an ingrown or infected toenail to help relieve pain and pressure:
Although you can do many things to treat an infected toe at home, it’s important to understand when you need to seek medical care. Call your doctor or a podiatrist if:
You should seek immediate medical attention if you have a fever and notice red streaks on your skin that lead away from the infected area on your toe, as these symptoms indicate a more severe infection.
An infected toenail can impact your daily life, but it doesn’t have to. Learning how to treat an infected toe and knowing when to call your doctor can get you back to doing all the activities you love. If you’re concerned about an infection in your toe, you should schedule an appointment with a podiatrist before attempting to treat painful symptoms at home.