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How to drain an infected toe?

How to drain an infected toe: At the Foot and Ankle Center of Arizona, we’re well aware of how much discomfort you’re enduring, coupled with the concern that arrives when you have a toe infection looking so painful. Be it an unpleasant case of pus lingering underneath your toenail or just an ingeneral infected toe that’s red and swelling, the first priority would always be getting rid of it fast. In this comprehensive guide, learn how to approach an infected toe and foster healing.

How to drain an infected toe

Know the Enemy: Causes of Common Toe Infections

Toe infections can be caused by a wide variety of different villains. Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Ingrown Toenail: This painful disorder takes place when the corner Of a toenail digs into the surrounding skin producing redness, swelling, and sometimes a pus buildup.
  • Ringworm of Nail: This is a very common infection that grabs hold in a warm, damp atmosphere, assaulting the toenail, discoloring the nail, and making it thick and brittle.
  • Bacterial Infection: Bacteria may get into a small cut, scrape, or break in the skin, hence making it red, swollen, and throbby.
  • Athlete’s Foot: This fungal infection occurs between the toes and at the soles of the feet, most likely because the constant moisture there creates a habitat for fungus. This causes itchiness, burning, and scaling of the skin.

Signs and Symptoms: How to Identify a Toe Infection

If you could identify the signs and symptoms and catch a toe infection early, you can effectively treat it. Here’s what to look out for:

The infected area will mostly turn red in color and swollen. It may sometimes be warm to touch. The toe may ache, especially upon application of pressure or wearing of shoes. It may have pus draining as it happens in cases of ingrown toenail infection. The toenail is thick, discoloration occurs which is in most cases accompanied by brittleness.

Itching and Burning: Some of the infection cases may lead to intense itching and burning between the toes and the soles of the feet.

When To Seek Professional Help

While most of the infections in the toe are well treated with home care, there are some situations where you need to seek professional help. Following are the essence indicators to visit the Foot and Ankle Center of Arizona:

  • Severe Pain: A podiatrist can investigate the cause if it is excruciating and does not let one walk or perform daily activities, then recommend stronger pain relievers.
  • Fever: If at the time your toe is infected and you have a fever, it may be a full-body infection. In this case, antibiotics may be prescribed.
  • worsening Symptoms: If after a couple of days, home remedy doesn’t seem to improve the infection, or if it gets worse, consult a podiatrist.

Diabetic Foot Ulcers People with diabetes need to be watchful about their foot care. If one shows the first sign of diabetic foot ulcer, a serious complication, immediate attention is called for.

Beating the Infection: Home Care Strategies

Several home care strategies can help in treating mild to moderate toe infection and promote healing.

  • Soak the Infected Toe: Warm soaks with Epsom salts are most soothing and really help the inflammation go down. Soak your infected toe in warm water with 1 to 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a day.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relief: One can take pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help with discomfort.
  • Keeping the Area Clean and Dry: Maintain good foot hygiene by washing your feet daily using mild soapy water. Dry them properly, especially between the toes, to prevent further moisture from collecting.
  • Wear Loose-Fitting Shoes: Wear comfortable shoes that are well-ventilated to provide breathing space for your toes and absolutely cause no more pressure to the affected toe.

How to Drain an Infected Toenail–Ingrown Toenail in Particular

If you have an ingrown toenail accompanied by a development of pus, then the following is a step-by-step approach to attempting to drain it at home:

Important Disclaimer: This is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be medical advice. Sterile technique must be followed to minimize your risk of infection. Since each patient is different, it’s important to consult a podiatrist rather than attempt this if you have any confusion about performing any of the steps below.

What You’ll Need:

  1. Basin of warm water
  2. Epsom salts-optional
  3. Mild soap
  4. Antiseptic solution-rubbing alcohol or iodine
  5. Cotton balls or gauze pads
  6. Tweezers-sterilized with rubbing alcohol or iodine


  • Soak your foot: Fill a basin with warm water; you can add to the water 1 to 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts for further relief and soak your foot for 15-20 minutes.
  • Clean the area: After soaking, wash your foot gently with mild soap and warm water, most specifically on the infected toe. Dry the area carefully using a clean towel, mostly around the toenail.
  • Sterilize the Tools: Sterilize the tweezers by rubbing alcohol or iodine. Let them dry before continuing to operation.
  • Soften the nail only if required: If it is too hard to cut, soak your foot for another 5-10 minutes to finally soften it.
  • Gently Lift the Nail Edge: This is the delicate part of working at home. Using the tweezers that you had sterilized earlier, gently try to lift the ingrown edge of the toenail a little. Be very cautious not to dig or pull the nail as this will further worsen the infection.
  • If possible, drain the Pus: If you see a little pocket of pus that you can reach without irritating further, very lightly absorb the pus with a sterile cotton swab. Don’t squeeze or press around; this may force the infection deeper.
  • Apply Antiseptic Solution: After the pus has been drained, if present, take a sterile cotton swab soaked in an antiseptic solution and gently dab on the affected area. This antiseptic solution can either be filled with rubbing alcohol or iodine.
  • Apply Bandage Loosely: The toe needs to be covered with a sterile bandage, but not too tightly. Tying too tight hampers blood flow and hence will impact healing.
  • Repeat Soaking and Cleaning: Continue to soak your foot 3-4 times a day in warm salt water, accompanied by gentle cleaning and drying.
  • Monitor and Care: Keep an eye on the infected toe. If there is increasing redness, swelling, or pain, or if no improvement has occurred after a few days, discontinue home care and contact the podiatrists of the Foot and Ankle Center of Arizona.

Other Tips to Accelerate Healin

  • Elevation: Keep your foot elevated above heart level as much as you can to decrease swelling.
  • Avoid Irritating Activities: Avoid activities that place repeated stress on the infected toe. These include tight shoes and heavy exercise.
  • Over-the-counter Fungicides: If you have a fungal infection, talk to your podiatrist about whether an over-the-counter antifungal cream would be effective in this particular case.

Remember: While home care strategies are adequate for mild infections of the toes, it’s always best to seek the help of a podiatrist for proper diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan. At the Foot and Ankle Center of Arizona, our well-experienced and highly professional podiatrists will instantly stand at your beck and call to solve all your foot and ankle problems so that you get on track toward a speedy recovery. There is no need to wait—just schedule an appointment with us if you have any questions or need professional assistance with your infected toe today


Dr. Kris Dinucci