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How do you treat an infected big toe?

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Quick Answer

Treatment options for an infected big toe include topical and oral antibiotic medications, warm water foot baths and surgery, according to Cleveland Clinic. Lifting an ingrown nail from the nail bed with a splint or removing part of the nail reduces pain and discomfort, reports Mayo Clinic.

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Warm water foot baths help reduce swelling and inflammation of the big toe. Patients should soak feet for at least 15 minutes, up to three times a day, notes Mayo Clinic. Afterward, patients should apply a topical antibiotic and bandage the toe. At night, patients should remove the bandage, exposing the toe to the air, to promote healing, suggests Cleveland Clinic.

Removing the nail and infected skin tissue prevents osteomyelitis, or bone infection, reports Cleveland Clinic. Those who have diabetes or other conditions that cause poor blood circulation in the feet have a greater chance of developing complications, notes Mayo Clinic.

Surgical procedures typically include the use of lasers, chemicals or other surgical tools to remove the nail and infected skin tissue, according to Mayo Clinic. Surgery recovery times vary between one to three weeks, and patients must wear a postoperative shoe that protects the big toe until it heals, explains Cleveland Clinic. To prevent future big toe infections, patients should trim toenails straight across and wear shoes that fit properly, suggests Mayo Clinic.

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