Podiatrist Toronto, ON Sheldon H. Nadal D.P.M.
586 Eglinton Avenue E. Suite 501 Toronto, Ontario M4P1P2
Local: 416-486-9917 Toll free: (877) 456-3338

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What you Should Know About Toenail Infections

What you Should Know About Toenail Infections

Toenail infections may seem like a minor nuisance. But an infection of any kind can become more serious and lead to complications.  Recognizing signs of an infection and being proactive may prevent symptoms from becoming worse.


Most toenail infections are due to bacteria or fungus. The skin around the toenail can become infected when a pathogen gets in. Various factors may increase your risk of toenail infection, including the following:

Injury to the toe: If you injure your toenail or the skin around your nail, such as by stubbing the toe or having something fall on the toe, it can increase your risk of infection.

Poor hygiene: Poor foot hygiene may cause bacteria or fungus to spread to the nails and lead to an infection.  

Ingrown nail: An ingrown toenail develops when the side of the nail grows into the tissue. Once the skin gets pierced by the nail, bacteria or fungus can enter the skin and lead to an infection. 

Although anyone can develop nail infections, people with diabetes may be more likely to develop complications.

Warning signs

Warning signs of a toenail infection can vary depending on the type and severity of the infection. In some cases, symptoms can become more severe over time.

Typical warning signs include:

  • Swelling around the nail
  • Redness
  • Pain at the nail site
  • Abscess
  • Inflamed tissue
  • Yellowed nail


If you have signs of toenail infection, it’s best to see a foot specialist to prevent the condition from getting worse. In some instances, home treatment may be all that is needed to treat the infection. In other cases, your foot specialist may recommend additional treatment.

Treatment may include:

Soaking the foot: Place your affected foot in warm water and soak it for about 15 minutes. You can repeat this about four times a day. The warm water may reduce pain. Also, if you have a pus-filled infection, the warm water may promote drainage. Consider adding a few tablespoons of Epsom salt to reduce inflammation.

Antibiotic cream: Apply antibiotic cream as recommended by your podiatrist.

Oral antibiotics: Take oral antibiotics if your podiatrist recommends them.

Wear sensible footwear: While you have an infection, it may be best to avoid wearing shoes that squeeze your toes. Instead, try to wear sandals or open-toed shoes. 

Consider pain relievers: If pain is significant, over the counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen may help.

See a foot specialist: If the infection does not clear up in a few days or symptoms get worse, it’s important to see a foot specialist. A foot specialist will examine your foot and determine the most effective treatment. Plus, your podiatrist can also help you figure out how the nail infection developed, so you can find ways to prevent future infections.


Anyone can develop a toenail infection. But there are things you can do to reduce your risk, including the following:

  • Wear shoes that fit well and are not too tight.
  • Wear sandals when in a public pool area or locker room to reduce exposure to fungus.
  • Do not share personal nail items, such as clippers or files.
  • Sanitize clippers after each use.
  • Keep your toenails short and cut them straight across to avoid an ingrown nail.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry.
  • Place antifungal powder in your shoes to reduce the risk of a fungal infection.

Remember, it is best to be proactive and take steps to prevent an infection from developing. If you do develop an infection, early treatment may prevent it from getting worse.

If you have signs of a toenail infection or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Podiatrist Sheldon Nadal, D.P.M at the Bayview Eglinton Podiatry Clinic in |Toronto.



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