ZocdocAnswersIs my toe infected? How should I treat it?

Question

Is my toe infected? How should I treat it?

I pealed the hang nail off the side of my toe. Now it's been swollen, red & looks a little pussy around the side. It's only on one side of the toe. It hurts on & off. How should I treat it? & if the remedies don't work, when should I see a doctor?

Answer

That is an excellent question and one that is best answered by your primary care doctor or a doctor specializing in feet such as an orthopedist or podiatrist. Based upon your history, it sounds like you may have an infection in that part of your toe after peeling the hang nail. This can sometimes be a self limited issue which just requires heat, such as soaking in hot water, and medicated ointment application to the affected area, while other times it may require close observation by a doctor and perhaps even an incision and drainage of the abscess if it progresses. It is impossible to know what you need based upon the history you have provided, so it is recommended that you are evaluated by a doctor who can decide whether you would be best treated with topical ointment, or oral antibiotics, or even an incision and drainage as previously described. Until you see a doctor, you may consider some symptomatic treatment options which include soaking in hot water, applying ointment, keeping the area clean and dry, avoiding putting too much pressure on the area, and gentle massage to the area to get excess purulence out of the wound.

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

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