A toe that is red and swollen may require treatment from a podiatrist, as it is usually caused by an ingrown toenail, according to MedlinePlus. Home remedies can include soaking the toe in warm water and wedging cotton or dental floss under the nail to prevent further infection.
Additional methods to alleviate an ingrown toenail include gently massaging the inflamed skin and using a clean, sharp trimmer when cutting nails, explains MedlinePlus. Patients should avoid making the nails too short or rounded, and should not attempt to remove the ingrown portion of the nail themselves, as this can cause infection and pain. People with diabetes, nerve damage in the legs or feet, poor circulation or infection should contact a doctor immediately, rather than trying to treat the condition.
Wearing sandals and using over-the-counter medication applied to the nail can help with pain, but it does not treat the problem. A doctor may use scissors to cut the edge of the nail over which skin is growing, then remove the nail. The nail usually regrows in two to four months, states MedlinePlus. Treatment often controls infection and relieves pain, but the condition can return in patients that do not practice good foot care.
Ingrown toenails can be caused by shoes that do not fit well and by toenails that are not trimmed properly, reports MedlinePlus. The great toe is most often affected, becoming red and swollen, but any toenail can become infected.