What is Toe Abscess?

Toe abscess is a soft and delicate mass that forms on the human toe. You may find it easy to touch and feel but it is painful. The mass inside the toe abscess contains a lot of pus as well as debris that causes itching and pain. Medicines are not enough to treat a large toe abscess as the pus needs to be removed so that the mass dries up. In few cases the pus may drain out naturally and in some, the patient will have to visit the doctor. Incision and drainage process is followed so that the pus can be removed easily to clean the affected area.

What is Toe Abscess?

Causes of Toe Abscess

There are a number of causes that may result in toe abscess like oils secreted from the sweat glands or sebaceous glands, skin punctures, germs in your toe or hair follicle etc... If proper treatment is not taken the condition can worsen especially when pus drains out as it causes a lot of pain that becomes unbearable.

Usually, the middle area of your toe abscess is made up of dead cells along with the pus, bacteria's and debris. Slowly the area will start growing resulting into inflammation caused by the germs or the bacteria's. Pus will start to develop thus causing pain and problem in movements. If your immune system is weak there are high chances that you may suffer from toe abscess or other kinds of abscesses. If you have any of the following health problems, you are at a high risk of getting toe abscess.

Other causes of toe abscess are bad hygiene, any kind of skin infection or being surrounded by dirty environment.

Signs and Symptoms of Toe Abscess

Signs and Symptoms of Toe Abscess

The major symptom of toe abscess which is clearly visible is that there is an abscess filled with pus is present on the toe. With time the toe abscess becomes really painful and gets dark red in color and soft to the touch.

  • With time the toe abscess becomes transparent and the inside pus is visible. It may even get ruptured with pus draining out on its own.
  • If care is not taken there are chances that the infection can spread and affect your leg as well. In worst cases, it can also enter the blood stream.
  • In case your infection enters the tissue, you may experience a high fever.

You will soon have to seek the advice of your doctor so that they can perform examination. Visit the doctor if you have:

  • Severe pain.
  • Drainage.
  • Redness.
  • Swelling.
  • Running temperature.

Tell the signs and symptoms to your doctor so that they can do the needful.

Risk Factors for Toe Abscess

Though the above factors are the major reasons that cause toe abscess but there might be other risk factors that you may experience.

  • If you have a weak immune system or are suffering from HIV then you are at high risk of getting toe abscess.
  • People with diabetes can develop toe abscess.
  • If you are suffering from hidradenitis suppurativa you are at risk.
  • If you have staphylococcal bacteria present in your body then you are at risk.

In few situations, toe abscess may occur in people who are healthy as well.

Complications in Toe Abscess

Different kinds of complications can take place in case of toe abscess.

  • The infection may spread from that area to the surrounding areas.
  • The infection can enter into your blood and your body as well making you the carrier of the virus and this can lead to the development of abscess in other areas of your body.
  • Gangrene also known as the death of the tissue is a complication of toe abscess.

Tests to Diagnose Toe Abscess

Physical examination is what your doctor perform and will ask for questions listed below.

  • For how long this toe abscess has been there?
  • Was there any injury on the toe?
  • Which medications are you currently taking?
  • Do you have any kinds of allergy?
  • Do you suffer from fever?

The doctor will examine the area and check for other things and accordingly prescribe the treatment. Blood test may also be conducted to diagnose toe abscess

Treatment for Toe Abscess

The treatment for a larger toe abscess is to get the pus drained out. The toe will be made numb with the help of the sedatives.

  • Local anesthesia is given in the treatment of a larger toe abscess so that you do not experience any pain during the I and D or incision and drainage process.
  • A sedative is another option that puts an end to your pain.

Before the treatment starts, the antiseptic solution will be used on the infection and sterile towels are used to cover it. Your doctor will then make a small cut to drain out the pus. Once the pus comes out of the toe abscess, the doctor will ensure that there is less bleeding and keep the cut for some days.

  • Then a bandage is used so that germs and dust do not infect the area again.
  • You will feel a lot of relief once the pus from the toe abscess is drained out.
  • Some medications are also given by the doctor in case you feel pain in the area.

It is important to follow the instructions of the doctor to get quick relief.

  • Your doctor will ask you to remove the packing with the help of their instructions.
  • Visit the doctor from time to time until the treatment for toe abscess is complete.
  • If you experience fever or any swelling do seek the advice of the doctor.

Home Remedies for Toe Abscess

Simple toe abscess can be managed by the following home remedy.

  • In case the toe abscess is small in size of about 1 cm or less then warm compressor can be a good option. Apply it for about 30 minutes at least 4 times in a day and it is an excellent home remedy .
  • Do not try to drain the pus by pressing as it may lead to infection and affect the underlying tissues of your skin.
  • Avoid the use of needles or any other sharp instrument as it can result in deep skin or tissue injury.

Prevention of Toe Abscess

It is important to maintain proper hygiene in order to avoid skin infection through germs and bacteria. As bacteria are one of the major reasons of toe abscess so cleanliness is a must.

Make sure you clean your skin properly so that the risk of bacteria's is low. Here are some of the tips you can follow to prevent toe abscess.

  • Wash your feet 3 to 4 times a day.
  • Do not share towels and use clean ones.
  • Do not use sauna or swimming pools until your toe abscess is completely treated as well as healed.

Do not squeeze the pus as germs will enter the skin and affect the area to a great extent. If in case it drains out naturally, clean the area properly and then let it dry. Wash your hands to avoid any kind of germ transfer.

Visit your doctor so that they can provide the right medications or the treatment to prevent toe abscess. Here is something more that you can do to overcome toe abscess.

Treating an external abscess is simpler rather than the internal one so maintain proper hygiene to avoid it.

Recovery Period/Healing Time for Toe Abscess

Your recovery period/healing time for toe abscess will depend on upon the kind of treatment that your doctor has performed. The experts will guide on the same and provide the related information you are looking for.

Prognosis/Outlook for Toe Abscess

The prognosis is good for toe abscess. After the treatment, the toe abscess will take some time to heal.

  • In many cases, antibiotics are not needed.
  • Your pain will get reduced day by day and eventually end.
  • Your toe abscess will take around 10 days to heal properly. Follow the instructions of your doctor for a speedy recovery.
  • In the first two days itself you will feel the difference and in 2 weeks the toe abscess will get healed completely.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: September 19, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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