Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why is my big toe swollen, in pain, and red?"
I am a 21 year old mother of one. I recently have been experiencing a pain in my big toe. It is swollen and red. It feels like my toenail is cut through my skin from the side. It makes it painful to wear shoes and socks. Could this be an in-grown toe nail? What sort of doctor should I see about this?
First of all, as I am unable to see and assess your toe this advice must be taken into that context. What you are describing actually does sound like an ingrown toenail. An ingrown toenail occurs when the side of your toe-nail grows into the skin fold along its side. This most often occurs on your big toe, though it can occur on any other toe, or even your fingernails. The causes of this can be excessive trimming of the side edges, poorly fitting shoes, and some sort of recent trauma to that toe (for example, stubbing your toe on a children's toy). Best way to prevent this from occurring is to wear well-fitting shoes and to avoid excessive trimming of the sides of your toe nails. To treat this, it depends on how bad your toe is. If you have a little pain, and don't notice any fluid leaking out of the area you can place a cotton wedge or a piece of dental floss underneath the edge of side of the toe-nail to relieve the pressure. Also, you can soak the foot in warm, soapy water three times a day for about 15 minutes at a time - gently pushing your nail from out under your skin. If this treatment does not relieve your symptoms, and you start to develop a lot of redness or even pus coming from the toe site, you should go see your family doctor. He/She may be able to treat it with a minor bed-side procedure or refer you to a podiatrist.
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