Is your toenail infected? How to spot the signs

Spotting the signs of an infected toenail can be pretty easy, but that doesn’t mean that everybody knows just what to do when they see them.

“A lot of people have ingrown toenails that become infected,” Dr. Ebonie Vincent, of TLC’s “My Feet Are Killing Me,” told Fox News. “Usually the signs of infection are pretty easy. It’s like fire-engine red around your toe, if it’s warm, if it's draining pus, if it’s painful to touch – those are all signs of infections.”

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Other symptoms may include pain with pressure on the toe, swollen, tender skin, bleeding, or skin that is growing over part of the toenail. Vincent said it’s a pretty common ailment among her patients, and that she sometimes removes up to two infected toenails per day at her own practice

"Usually if you remove the offending nail border, take that out, the infection usually clears out pretty quickly,” she said.

Some patients may require oral antibiotics to rid of the infection, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Patients who have the nail removed have an increased likelihood of it growing back deformed, and it may take up to four months for it to regrow.

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For those with chronic, recurrent infected ingrown toenails, permanent removal of the offending nail may be advised.

And unfortunately, not every infection or ingrown toenail is preventable. Ingrown toenails can be caused by shoes, the way you walk, certain activities, or even genetics. Cutting your nails can also cause an issue, and as Vincent points out, “nobody is safe.”

“But, there is a solution for everyone,” she said.

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Not every patient will require surgery to treat an ingrown toenail either. Soaking the affected foot in warm water daily, and keeping it dry the rest of the day, can help provide relief before infection sets in, according to the AAOS.

Wearing comfortable shoes with adequate room, and taking ibuprofen may help with pain relief. However, if symptoms don’t clear within two to three days, it is best to consult a doctor.

To see Dr. Vincent in action, tune in to TLC on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET.