We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Can Cause an Infected Toenail?

By Madeleine A.
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An infected toenail can be caused by bacteria, fungus, or yeast. An ingrown toenail can cause significant tissue irritation and subsequent bacterial infection. Symptoms of an infected toenail include pain and swelling around the nail, redness, and pus formation. Nail changes can also occur resulting in abnormally shaped nails, color changes and detachment of the nails from the nail bed. Pain and sensitivity from an infected toenail can be so severe that the slightest pressure can cause excruciating pain.

Wearing shoes that are too tight is a common cause of an ingrown toenail and subsequent toenail infection. A toenail injury such as one sustained during running or playing sports can also contribute to a toenail infection. Improperly trimming of the toenails can contribute to a toenail infection as well. Those who have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or circulatory problems, should have their toenails trimmed by a podiatrist to reduce the risk of infection and injury.

Treatment for a toenail infection includes soaking the foot in hot water a few times a day, which can greatly relieve pain and swelling. It can also draw out pus and wash away bacteria. Over-the-counter antibiotic ointments are often prescribed for an infected toenail, as are oral antibiotics. At the first sign of an infected toenail, the health care provider should be notified so he can evaluate the infection and recommend treatment.

Sometimes, the health care provider may need to remove a portion of the toenail that has grown into the tissue. He may also have to lance the affected area to drain the pus. For a toenail infection that is caused by a fungus, an anti-fungal medication is typically the treatment of choice. Although an infected toenail caused by a bacteria generally responds quickly to treatment, an infected toenail caused by a fungus might not respond for a few months.

Though complications from an infected toenail are rare, they can occur, and may include permanent changes in the structure or shape of the nail, abscess formation, and the risk of the infection spreading to other parts of the body. Systemic symptoms of a toenail infection can include fever and chills, joint pain, and red streaks near the infection site. When these symptoms occur, the health care provider can evaluate the potential seriousness of these symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
By anon947459 — On Apr 25, 2014

Recently, both my big toes have been very red and swelled and when force is applied. They hurt a lot and also one toenail has a weird sticky yellowish/green substance coming out and the toenails have turned like a stained yellow color.

By candyquilt — On Nov 03, 2013

Our toes and toenails really are more sensitive and fragile than we realize. A small ingrown nail, a small injury, sweaty feet or unhygienic shoes can lead to infections.

I have an infected toenail right now due to injury and sweaty feet. I bruised my toe while playing sports and the side of the toenail broke off. I didn't take good care of it and I didn't change my socks frequently and now it's infected. I have to take antibiotics now, it's that bad!

By ddljohn — On Nov 02, 2013

@SarahGen-- You might have a fungal infection and an ingrown nail. I've actually had both at the same time.

I think fungal nail infections usually just cause yellow, thick nails that flake. Abscesses under the nail usually develop from ingrown nails. I had the same symptoms as you earlier this year. My doctor said that I have fungus and an ingrown nail, so I had to have both treated.

You should see a doctor though because I'm no expert. Regardless of what it is, it sounds like you need medical treatment right away.

By SarahGen — On Nov 02, 2013

Can a fungal nail infection cause pus?

I think I have a fungal infection because my toenail is yellow, but there is also an abscess with pus under the nail.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.