ZocdocAnswersIs the pain in my toe an ingrown toe nail?

Question

Is the pain in my toe an ingrown toe nail?

I've never had an ingrown toe nail but does this sound like one? My big toe is red and puffy on one side and really, really tender. It is getting to be painful to walk. Is it an ingrown toe nail? What do you do about it?

Answer

Unfortunately the symptoms you describe do sound like an ingrown toenail. An ingrown toenail occurs when one side of the nail starts growing into the fleshy area at the side of your toe instead of growing up and staying in the nail bed. This can often happen when toenails are clipped too short. The symptoms of an ingrown toenail include exactly what your describe: the side of the toe where the nail is growing will become swollen, red, and exquisitely painful. Depending upon how far ingrown the nail becomes, you can also develop a small infection or abscess there. You should definitely see your primary care physician right away. He or she can examine the area and help determine whether this is an ingrown toenail or whether it could also be something else. Gout, for example, also presents with a swollen red toe. If you do have an ingrown toenail, the best treatment is to soak the foot to help with the pain; drain any abscess; and trim the nail. Your doctor may want to refer you to a podiatry specialist. The best way to prevent ingrown toenails in future is to let you nails grow so that the nail edge is above the tip of the toe and then trim the nail straight across without any curve.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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