Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What is causing the pain in my toe?"
My big toe is really red around the nail and is very tender to the touch. What is causing this? Is there a name for this?
What you have is something called a paronychia. A paronychia is an infection of the nail fold. It is typically caused when a small nick in the tissue allows bacteria in (the most reason would be from an ingrown toenail). Some mild paronychia can be treated at home without seeing a doctor. The treatment involves wearing comfortable loose-fitting shoes, soaking the the toe in warm water to draw out the infection, and applying a topical antibiotic cream or ointment. However, many paronychia are so inflamed or painful that they require seeing your doctor. If you notice that there is a boggy, pale area this might be an abscess. If so, this will require lancing by your primary care doctor. Similarly, if the redness or pain is severe, you may need some oral antibiotics to get the infection under control. Again, your primary care doctor will be able to help you with this. In the future, if you have an ingrown toenail and that was the cause of your paronychia, you should see a podiatrist to help prevent future flareups. You will definitely want to avoid tight shoes, as these can make ingrown toenails much worse, and make sure to cut your toenails straight across.
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