How to Cure a Swollen Toe

By Sarah Howes

What Causes a Swollen Toe?

If you have a swollen toe as a result of a recent injury and your looking for a cure then your going to want to read this article. We will go over some of the most common causes of swollen toes and cures so you can enjoy your healthy lifestyle. After reading this article you should be more confident in finding a cure for your swollen toe.

A swollen toe is an edema which is a natural body defense that causes a build up of fluids that get trapped under the skin leading to swelling. Toe swelling can occur in one or several toes at the same time from the result of an injury such as banging your toe against a wall, a cut, ingrown toenails or other problems. The swelling can be associated with bruising, itchiness, pain, redness, warmth, numbness and stiffness.

A swollen toe could be caused by injury from sports such as running or could be an underlying medical condition. Sports such as running puts a lot of stress on your feet, the continual pounding on hard surfaces can lead to your toes swelling. Bruised and swollen toes can be avoided by wearing the proper sized shoes and thick padded socks. Improper sized shoes can restrict the flow of blood to the foot and toes.

Another cause of a toe swelling is an infection caused by ingrown toenails. A swollen toe is a good sign in this case as it is telling you that your body is trying to fight off infection from the bacteria and germs that have invaded. When cutting your toes with toe nail clippers, ensure that the clippers are clean and never cut your nail too deep. If a toe with an ingrown toenail is causing you pain then try soaking your foot in a warm bath for 15-20 minutes to reduce the pain, repeat this process 3 to 4 times a day.

Gout can be another form of toe swelling. Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood and is an acute inflammatory arthritis which usually occurs in the big toe (the first metatarsal-phalanges joint) causing a painful burning feeling. Uric acid is formed from the breakdown of substances called purines which are found in foods such as liver, dried beans, peas and anchovies. Both lifestyle changes and medications can decrease uric acid levels in the body, please contact your doctor or specialist as soon as possible for treatment.

Check out this great video from Dr Bob Lahita which summarizes the common problems which can occur in your toes.

Treating a Swollen Toe

If your toe is swollen due to running or other related sports, a typical home remedy cure would include applying the ICE and ELEVATE treatment:

  • ICE
     Apply an ice pack or a frozen vegetable pack from your freezer to the toe to reduce the swelling and pain. Wrap the ice pack in a tea towel before applying directly to your toe for 20-30 minutes. Repeat this process every 2-3 hours. Do not apply the ice directly to the skin
    Elevate your foot above you heart to reduce the swelling. This is usually achieved by lying down with your foot raised up above your heart with a couple of pillows.

Swollen Toe Summary

If you have been involved in an accident, squashed or dropped something on your toe, then the swollen toe could indicate a more serious injury such as broken toes or a ligament injury. Dealing with a swollen toe promptly is important to help prevent any further infections. If your swelling is minor then try one of the ICE and ELEVATE solution above, however if you are experiencing a lot of pain in your toe, then you should consult your doctor or specialist as soon as possible for further treatment.

Author: Sarah

swollen toe

25 thoughts on “How to Cure a Swollen Toe

  1. Elaine

    Thanks for the info, my toe was so sore from walking around in heels all day. I used an ice bag to reduce the swelling and it worked. I think the problem are my heels, this gives me another great excuse to go shopping!

  2. Jeremy

    The Ice method worked, I applied a bag of ice wrapped in a tea towel and applied it to my big toe. The swelling reduced. Thanks.

  3. Fred

    I woke up last week with a swollen fourth toe and very sensitive to pain on the outside edge of toe.Pain has somewhat sibsided but still very swollen at the joint.
    Icing doesn’t seem to help much.

  4. medical assistant

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  5. Agueda

    Hi! I simply want to offer you a huge thumbs up for
    your excellent information you have got here on this post.
    I will be returning to your website for more soon.

  6. Branden Beatson

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article!
    It’s the little changes which will make the biggest changes. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Cara

    I was doin a handstand in my living room yesterday and I fell down and banged my big toe on the ground. So I tried ice and elevating it and it helped a ton. Thanks so much

  8. John

    thought my big toe was going to explode but your suggestions worked miracles. thanks. Marry me Sarah. :-)

  9. Cherry Blossom

    I tried icing but my little toe is swelling and it has been swelling for the past week. Can ANYONE help me?!?!?!

    1. Sarah Post author

      Hi Cherry, it sounds like you have a more serious injury, please contact your doctor and get it checked out.

  10. Bella

    Im a 13 year old girl

    One day, maybe 2-3 months ago I woke up that morning With a big swell on my fourth toe (the second after the bigtoe) and It was red and painfull to move or walk on. I thought it probably was some normal swelling and that it would slowly dissapear, and sure enough With the day passing I didnt feel much pain anymore. I thought it was the end but apparently the day after I was woken up around dawn With a horrible pain there, so it had just grown more painful. We went to the doctor and he told us that It was nothing serious, only some swelling from when I used my skateboard. So after some rest the Third day was more like the first.. and then it was over finnaly.

    yester day I had the exact same experience as the first, the pain on the exact same toe also. but I had more controll since I kind of knew what it was, and knew that It probably would wear off in these 3 days. today, the second day I was woken just like the past one, where the pain had grew worse. So now Im waiting for tommorow, hoping that I would be able to Wake up without a swollen toe. though I am In a bit of a hurry since in 2 days Im heading over to HorseCamp and It would be Nice to be able to have a ‘healthy’ toe without needing to drag myself around. So I hope you have some tip for some quick and effective treatments, though Im not quite sure if the Icing helps since I havent quite hit myself or exercised. though any kind of help would be amazing!
    thanks :)

    1. Sarah Post author

      Hi Bella,

      It sounds like it could be a combination of the shoes you are wearing and the skateboarding activity.

      Are you noticing that the swelling occurs the next morning after a day of skateboarding? Also, since you are noticing that the swelling is occurring on the same toe, could this be from a certain stance or trick you are doing on the skateboard that is causing that particular toe to be used?

      If you are noticing that the swelling occurs after skateboarding then you may have to try different shoes or just rest for the next few days with no skateboarding so that you can have a ‘healthy’ toe for HorseCamp.

      Your doctor obviously checked it out the first time and I’m sure he would have done further test’s such as an X-ray to confirm no broken or fractured toes.

      I hope you heal soon. Thanks for sharing your story and let us know how you get on. :)

  11. brendon

    Hi. I am a long distance walker. On this trip after about 2500kms, I started to get pain in the second toe from the big toe. Pain whenever I took a step. The top off the foot became swollen.

    I assume I pick up minor stress fracture in this toe.

    I have rested it so far for 18 days with the rice treatment.

    I can walk for about 30 minutes without any discomfort. But after that my toe feels swollen, and the front pad of the foot feels swollen.

    Also most of the swelling from the first day of injury has gone. Just small amout of swelling at the base of that toe on the top of the foot.

    I am travelling in countries where its hars to see a doctor.

    Does it sound like it healing ok? And would you expect that the injury to be gone in another 2 weeks

  12. andrekramp

    I cut some hard skin underneath my big toe I cut to deep .it bled and then swelled up and half my foot and the hole just will not heel. the doctor said it will remain swollen for good only going down a little bit I don’t believe that story ,could you please send me some advice on how I could fix this problem , I would really appreciate it , Thanking you Andre Kramp.

    1. Sarah Howes Post author

      Hi Andre,

      I do not believe the doctors advice that the swelling will be there for good. It sounds like you have infected the toe and this could have been from the clippers you used or some other similar reason. Please get the toe looked at by a second doctor.

  13. AmyW

    All my toes aside from my big one, swell and become very sensitive every summer and winter. Could you please send me some advice on how to fix it?
    Thanks Amy


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