Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"Why is my toe swollen and bleeding?"


I stubbed my toe a while ago and now it has been throbbing in pain, swollen, and bleeding randomly. I put a band aid on it and left it there for about a week now, thinking it would keep the germs out, but I do not think that is the case. I want to know if I should see a doctor or not.


It is difficult to know exactly what the problem is without knowing a bit more about from where the toe is bleeding and where it is swollen. For example, sometimes when you stub your toe, you cause trauma to the area of skin on the sides of the nail. If there is a cut here, it can get inflamed and infected, leading to what is called a paronychia.

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Paronychia can sometimes get better just with topical antibiotic ointment and soaking the foot in warm water, but often the need to be lanced to drain pus or require prescribed oral antibiotics. If the toe is generally painful and swollen overall, and if the pain is worse especially with walking, this could be a sign that you have a broken bone in the toe or front part of the foot. After a physical examination, your primary care doctor may decide to investigate this possibility by checking an X-ray of the foot. I suggest, therefore, going to see your primary care doctor. They will be able to diagnose what is going on and help decide of treatment is needed. If nothing serious is found, then this is probably just a toe sprain which will get better with time.

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