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How to Heal a toe infection?

Although painful and overwhelming, fortunately, toe infections can be managed and healed if the causes, symptoms, and treatments are understood. No matter what your troubles are because of an oozing ingrown toenail, pus under the toenail, or just a generalized infection, the following guide will walk you through detailed information on how to get rid of a toe infection and support the healing process.

Understand the Toe Infection

Toe infections can be caused by many different pathogens, from bacteria to fungi to viruses. Common causes of infected toes include: 

Ingrown toenail: If the edge of a toenail grows into the surrounding skin, it can hurt, cause redness, and then become infected.

Injury: Any cuts or scrapes in the toe can provide an opening for bacteria to enter.

Poor hygiene: If one does not keep the feet clean and dry, infection may arise.

Underlying medical conditions: Conditions like diabetes, among others, may compromise your ability to fight infection.

Signs of Toe Infection

The way a toe infection manifests itself varies from individual to individual depending on its causative agent and the extent of the infection. Generally, though, these are some common signs that could be indicative of some kind of toe infection:

  • Redness and swelling
  • Pain and tenderness
  • Warm area – The skin may feel warmer than the rest of your toes.
  • Pus or other discharge
  • Bad smell
  • Difficulty walking or even wearing shoes

How to Heal a Toe Infection

Healing a toe infection requires proper hygiene and treatment, sometimes requiring medical attention. Steps that can be taken to effectively heal an infected toe are as follows:

1. Proper Hygiene

Keeping the affected toe clean is very important in both preventing and treating infections. These steps should thus be followed:

Wash your feet daily: Clean your feet every day with soap and water. Make sure to clean the infected area properly.

Keep your feet dry: Moist environments provide an excellent breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Dry your feet with a clean towel, including the areas between your toes, right after washing.

2. Soaking the Infected Toe

Soaking your infected toe is a great way to take off the pain and swelling. It will also encourage healing. Following steps depict how to soak an infected toe:

Warm water and Epsom salt: Soak your foot in warm water filled in a basin with the addition of a few tablespoons of Epsom salt. Do this for 15-20 minutes, 2-3 times a day.

Antiseptic solution: You may also soak in an antiseptic solution as directed by your healthcare provider.

3. Draining of Pus from the Infected Toe

If you have a collection of pus under your toenail or an ingrown toenail leaking pus, this may need to be drained to ease pressure and start healing. This is how you can drain the pus from a toe:

Sterilize a needle, rubbing it with alcohol or a small pin. From the point where pus has collected, just pierce a little hole to let out the pus.

Apply gentle pressure: Gently press around the area for the pus to ooze out. Be sure not to force it.

Clean the area: Clean the area with an antiseptic solution once the area has drained. Apply antibiotic cream or ointment.

4. Treating an Ingrown Toenail

The ingrown toenail can get infected unless proper treatment is given. The ingrown toenail is treated by:

Soak the toe: Soak the affected toe in warm water and Epsom salt for a minimum of 20 minutes, 2 times a day, to help reduce swelling and pain.

Lift the nail: Gently lift the edge of the ingrown nail off the skin using a clean cotton ball or dental floss.

Apply antibiotic ointment: Apply over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.

Bandaging the toe: Cover the toe with a clean bandage to protect it from further irritation.

5. Using Antibiotics

In severe cases of infection, oral or topical antibiotics may be needed. Consult your doctor to determine if antibiotics are needed and get a prescription.

6. Home Remedies for Toe Infections

Many home remedies can support the healing process:

Tea tree oil: This oil has antibacterial properties and hence can be applied to the area of infection to reduce infection.

Garlic: Crushed garlic has antimicrobial properties. Therefore, prepare a paste of crushed garlic and apply it to the influenced portion. Cover the place with the assistance of a bandage.

Apple cider vinegar: As apple cider vinegar has antifungal along with antibacterial properties, soak your foot in a solution made with apple cider vinegar mixed in water.

Prevention of Toe Infections

Prevention from further infections of the toes is pretty easy. A few precautions can guarantee healthy and disease-free toes.

Cut your nails properly: The trimming of the toenail should be straight across, and avoid cutting at the corners and the sides too short.

Wear proper fitting shoes: The shoes must be fitting and should support the foot well.

Keep your feet dry: Change your socks frequently, and as far as possible avoid walking barefoot in communal places.

Good foot hygiene: Every day wash your feet, and the feet must be kept clean and dry.

When to Visit a Doctor

While most toe infections can be treated at home, one must learn when to seek help from a doctor. Consult a doctor when you observe any of the following: more severe pain and swelling; fever and chills; red streaks developing from the site of infection; worsening or nonhealing infection with treatment; and underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, that may further complicate an infection. 


Although an infected toe is very discomforting to manage, proper care indeed works in the effective management and healing of a toe infection. Keep yourself clean, soak the infected toe in water, and drain off the pus, if there is some. Besides these, home remedies may add more support to the treatment process. However, never hesitate to ask for medical advice if your infection turns serious or persistent. Following the above-mentioned steps will certainly help you get rid of the dreadful toe infection and maintain a healthy foot.

For professional medical advice and treatment, look no further than the Foot and Ankle Center of Arizona at +1 480.342.9999. Let our skilled professionals take good care of your foot and ankle needs.


Dr. Kris Dinucci