There are several conditions which can cause your infected toe; paronychia being one of the most common.
Paronychia (ingrown toenail)
Paronychia is an infection of the paronychium, which is the soft tissue that borders the nail. This infection is caused by fungus or bacteria, and it can be acute or chronic.
Acute Ingrown Nail
Acute paronychia lasts less than 6 weeks and it’s usually caused by bacteria. It tends to develop after bacteria is introduced to your toe following some type of trauma, which can be caused by trauma, tight shoes, tight socks, pedicures, or cutting your nails too short. Acute paronychia can also develop as the result of a hangnail or ingrown toenail.
You may have symptoms of acute paronychia include pain, swelling, redness, discolouration or thickening of the nail, and in some cases, blisters filled with pus or pus draining from the injury. Your infected toe must be treated otherwise the infection can spread to up you toe and worse case can spread up your leg.
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If you have chronic paronychia it can lasts over 6 weeks and it’s usually caused by a fungal infection; however, it can also be caused by a combination of a bacterial and fungal infection. Risk factors include jobs which keep your feet in a moist environment (ie work boots) Symptoms are similar to those found in acute paronychia, and the easiest way to differentiate both conditions is by the time they take to develop and heal.
Your chronic paronychia is treated with antifungal and/or antibiotic medications. Topical steroids can also be used; in severe cases, the surgical removal of the nail or part of it might be necessary.
Infected toes can be harder to diagnose and treat if you suffer from diabetes, since the vascular and nerve damage caused by the disease makes it harder for you to feel trauma to your toes, and it slows the healing process. If you are diabetic, or suffer from a weakened immune system, you should make sure to keep your feet dry and to check them every day looking for any minor injuries which can trigger an infected toe.
The best way to avoid infected toes is by keeping your feet dry and clean, making sure you wear comfortable shoes that don’t put excessive pressure on your toes, and trimming your nails straight across. Avoid walking barefoot in moist, common areas such as gyms, pool or gym showers, or around the pool.
If you have an infected toe, make an appointment with your foot expert. They will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis, drain your infection if necessary, and prescribe you with the proper treatment to make sure your infected toe heals as fast and effectively as possible.