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Toenail Pain – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Written by Dr.Mary
IN THIS ARTICLE:

The majority of toenail pain is normally caused by ingrown nails. These are normally inherited genetically and are usually seen later in life because of the gradual damage to cells beneath skin that grows the nail.


Another common cause of toenail pain can be caused by toenail fungus which is a fairly common condition. Fungus is found in damp as well as dark places such as shower areas which are public as well as swimming pools.

Toenail Pain Symptoms

The symptoms of a problem with the toe or toenail that needs attention besides pain, are:

  • Skin surrounding the toenail is swollen
  • Skin surrounding the toenail is red
  • Skin surrounding is discharging green or yellow fluid

If you have toenail pain as well as any of the above symptoms and you have diabetes, you need to see your family doctor or primary care physician immediately as people with diabetes have very poor circulation and can develop severe problems.

Causes of Toenail Pain

Toe Fungus

Toenail pain is normally a symptom which can occur during the latter stages of a toenail fungus infection. By this point, the infection has already become set deeply within the toenails as well as becoming difficult to treat. This fungus infection actually begins with nail discoloration – they can become white, darker, or yellowish. An individual can also probably notice that the nails are starting to become brittle as well as disfigured. By this time, toenail pain has set in.

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Ingrown Toe Nail

These normally develop later in life due to damage to the cells under the skin that grow the nail. Repeated toe injuries, such as dropping heavy objects on the toe, pressure because of shoes that fit poorly as well as any number of problems with the toe can cause changes to the nail matrix. Over time, the nail can abnormally start growing inward due to these problems. Poor nail trimming can leave a spike which can also protrude into the skin and start growing outward. Soon the skin can become inflamed and swollen because of a bacteria infection which is trapped in between the nail and the skin as well as minor injury of nicking the skin when cutting the nail. All of these problems cause pain to develop. An ingrown nail will develop chronic symptoms besides pain and if left untreated, the infection can spread and eventually cause problems to the toe bone underneath.

Treatment for Toe Pain

Of course, the treatment of pain of the toe is determined by what the underlying reason is. Treatment for pain of the toe can include:

  • Rest
  • Compresses of cold
  • Elevated foot
  • Care of any wound
  • Protective shoe or splint
  • Crutches
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs for pain
  • Non-steroidal drugs for pain
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery
  • Skin infection antibiotics
  • Open toe shoes for pain
  • Post-op shoes
  • Buddy tape toes
  • Narcotic pain drugs

For more information on toe pain refer to:

  1. I have been feeling severe pain under my big toe for the past six years. Sometimes as if Pins are being used to prick me under the nail, other times burning effect. I’m 43 years old. What should I do? No Doctor has been able to solve my problem yet 🙁

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