Big Toenail Pain Causes,Treatment & When to See a Doctor

Big toenail pain is caused by several factors. However, toenail pain is a common condition that nearly affects everyone. Sharp pain may be triggered in the big toe that may cause a lot of discomfort when walking and even wear shoes.

By good luck, most of these causes can be treated using simple home remedies and in case of a lot of pain, a doctor can be visited for a checkup.


What causes pain in the big toe area? Well, there are several different factors that can result in pain on the big toenail. Some of the most common causes of big toenail pain include:

Ingrown Toenail

The big toe is highly affected by the development of an ingrown nail. The ingrown nail occurs when the sharp edges of the nail come near the skin. Ingrown nail develops because of the nails not being cut well or wearing a tight shoe.

The pain will be experienced when there are swelling and inflammation of the nail and the skin. Big toenail pain occurs when pressure is applied. Always be careful when cutting your nails to avoid ingrown toenail pain.

Foot and Toenail Fungus

Fungal infection usually results in a change in the color of the nail. This mostly happens on the big toe. The infection causes the nail to become thick that rubs on the inside of your shoe hence resulting in pain. Treating the underlying condition can help to get rid of the pain in the big toenail.

Foot Injuries

The common source of pain on the big toe is an injury. This usually happens when a heavy object falls directly on the toe. It can also happen when you wear a small shoe that applies pressure on the big toe causing it to swell then ache.

Footwear-Related Issues

People who wear a tight shoe that is narrow at the end are commonly affected by this. Swelling and inflammation of the big toe come about because of too much pressure. Sharp pain will be felt on the big toe. Always put on the right shoe in order to avoid discomfort while walking.


Although this is a condition that usually affects the big toe joint, the pain can spread up to the toenail. Symptoms such as sudden, intense pain, inflammation, redness, heat and tenderness will be felt on the big toe.

This develops when there is high uric acid in the body. Uric acid accumulates when the body tries to break down substances that are found in many drinks and foods. This later results in high uric acid accumulating around the big toe joints causing inflammation.


The medical term for this condition is known as hallux valgus. This is a condition that generally results in big toe joint pain and even around the toenail.

Women are the most affected and it develops when they wear small shoes. It is therefore recommended to wear the right shoe that has adequate space in it. Yoga toe can also be applied in order to relieve the pain.

Toe Arthritis

Big toe joint pain is experienced by many people regardless of age and sex caused by arthritis. This is because the big toe is commonly known for bending up and down more frequently while walking. Pain, inflammation, and stiffness are some of the most common symptoms experienced.

Pain relief, ice, steroid injections and orthotics such as a rocker bar are some of the common ways of treating it. A doctor for diagnosis and treatment is always considered in case there is a lot of pain.

Tennis toe

This occurs when the big toenail is damaged every time. The constant damage usually results in the accumulation of blood beneath the big toenail. This may result in a lot of pain and the nail appears reddish or black color.


This condition develops when there is an inflammation of the small bones and the tendons in the big toe. It mostly happens in women who put on high-heeled shoes or those who are involved in activities that need the application of high pressure on the big toe.

It is recommended to wear shoes that have adequate space in order to reduce the pressure applied to the big toe. A doctor can also be visited for prescription of steroid injection in case the pain on the big toenail is very much.


Many people experience pain on the big toe. It occurs because of the high friction between the big toe and the inside of the tight-fitting shoes. The friction may result in small swellings with fluid around the big toenail result in a lot of pain.

Heat, chemicals or certain medical conditions can sometimes lead to the development of blisters. It is then advisable to wear the right shoe that does not apply pressure on your feet.

Treatment and Relief

According to doctors on WebMD, enough rest and patience happen to be the best home remedies that can help to relieve the big toenail pain.

A cold compress on the big toenail can also be applied in order to reduce the swelling as well as the inflammation. It is not recommended to place ice cubes directly on the big toenail experiencing the pain.

You can purchase over the counter anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs like ibuprofen or corticosteroid injections can also help reduce pain.

Always put on a shoe that fits your feet to reduce the application of pressure on the big toe which will also reduce friction that causes blisters.

However, in case of severe pain, this may require professional treatments like:

  • Surgery

Ingrown toenails, bunions, and repair of broken toes may be removed through surgery. These surgical procedures should only be done by a professional doctor only.

  • Injections

The injection is said to have anti-inflammatory properties which may help reduce pain in particular joints. Corticosteroid injection is a good example of a big toenail pain injection.

  • Medications

Gout that usually results in pain and inflammation around the big toe will be healed through medication. Pain and inflammation will be reduced through medication.

Further Readings:
1. Itchy Red Bumps on Skin.
2. Itchy Bumps on Skin Like Mosquito Bites.

When to See a Doctor

In case there is a lot of pain is on the big toenail because of injuries or other conditions and they do not reduce, always see your doctors.

A health care professional may be required in most of this big toenail pain. Warm skin, pus, and swelling near the location are some of the common symptoms. Oral antibiotics may be required by the doctor’s prescription.

Therefore, if symptoms on the big toe do not disappear despite using home remedies and other treatments to visit your doctor for a diagnosis.


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