An infected great toe may be caused by either a fungal infection or an ingrown toenail. Toe infections are normally not dangerous, unless you have diabetes, an immune disorder, circulatory problems or an antibiotic resistant staph infection. Infected big toes are often very painful, swollen, red and filled with pus. You should get medical treatment if your toenail infection does not seem to be getting better after a few days.
Determine whether the infection is due to a fungus or an ingrown toenail. Symptoms of an ingrown toenail are swelling, pain and redness with an infection at the corner of the toenail. This type of infection will usually occur after you have recently trimmed or picked off the corner of your toenail. Avoid ingrown toenails in the future by cutting the nail straight across. A fungal toenail infection will look yellow and be filled with pus. The entire nail bed may be discoloured. With a fungus infection, your toenail will start to thicken, get brittle and break off.
Soak your foot in warm, soapy water for 15 minutes each day. The soapy water will soften the skin and, if the toenail is growing under the skin, may allow the toenail to dislodge itself. After your skin is softer, any pus or swelling may go down as well.
Use an over-the-counter triple antibiotic ointment on the infected toe or fungal infection. Follow the directions for usage on the container, applying the ointment the maximum amount of times per day.
Use an anti-fungal spray or cream that you can purchase over the counter to treat the condition. If the cream does not cure the toenail fungus, ask your doctor to prescribe an oral anti-fungal medication.
Wear sandals with open toes for a few days so that your toes can be exposed to fresh air and dry out. Socks and shoes can sometimes create a moist, dark environment where fungus can grow more readily.
Keep your feet dry and if you do need to wear socks and shoes, change them several times a day.
- Avoid removing your entire big toenail. Your toenails protect your toes from injury.
- Go to the doctor if you have diabetes and have a great toe infection. When you have diabetes, any infection on your feet can turn to a serious problem where amputation may become necessary. If the infection does not go away, and your entire toe starts to get red, go to your doctor.