There are several different symptoms associated with toenail infections. Some of the most common symptoms include things like darkening, foul odors, or oozing coming from underneath the nail. This oozing or pus can give the appearance that the toenail is actually weeping.
There are some common infections that are typically causing this type of oozing. The medical terms used to describe them are Onychia and Paronychia. They refer to either fungal or bacterial infections of the nails.
Onychia is an infection of the actual nail. Paronychia is an infection of the skin that surrounds the nail. You’re more likely to see pus and weeping with paronychia, as it causes inflammation around the nail and can create abscesses.
In this article, we’ll discuss what causes these types of infections. We will also cover the symptoms to look out for, as well as how weeping toenails can be treated.
Having an infection of any kind on or around your toenail can cause bigger problems if not treated properly. Don’t let symptoms like oozing go untreated as things may get worse.
Table of Contents:
What Causes Toenail Infections?
Many different things can play a factor in a toenail infection, either bacterial or fungal. Some of the most common causes include:
Trauma to the Nail
Damage to the nail doesn’t have to be severe in order for it to cause problems. Many people think trauma has to be a one time, heavy-hitting event. Actually, trauma is more likely to be repeated with time, such as wearing shoes that are too tight and allowing your toe to hit against them again and again. Infection can occur when the nail gets damaged, or the surrounding skin.
If your shoes are rubbing against your toenails, it’s possible that they’re too tight. You can use a shoe stretcher to create extra room.
Bacterial infections are common and can occur for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest contributors to bacterial infections is ingrown toenails. If they grow into the skin and cause injury, it can expose your toe to bacteria.
Both fungal and bacterial infections can sometimes occur when the nails aren’t treated properly. If you frequently go to a nail salon, it’s important to be confident in their practices and the tools they are using. If everything isn’t sanitized properly, you could be putting yourself at risk.
The Right Conditions
Sometimes, fungal infections can occur from the conditions we surround ourselves with. The fungus grows and thrives in moist, dark areas. Toenail fungus often occurs due to moisture that gets caught underneath the nail bed. This can happen for a multitude of reasons, from taking public showers to wearing sweaty socks all day.
What Are the Symptoms of Onychia & Paronychia?
Because there are so many different ways to contract toenail infections, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms you should look out for. The earlier you recognize these symptoms, the sooner you can start treatment.
Some of the most common symptoms of a toenail infection include:
- Inflammation of the skin surrounding the nail. This is likely where you’ll notice oozing or weeping.
- Pain and discomfort. With certain infections, you may form an abscess underneath the nail, also causing areas of pus to form. If the weeping continues, it may actually become strong enough to start removing the nail from the nail bed.
Bacterial infections will typically show up suddenly. That can make them harder to catch when they are new. Fungal infections, however, develop over time. The earlier you can catch them, the better. One of the earliest signs of toenail fungus is a small dot in the center of the nail.
How to Treat a Toenail that Is Weeping
In most cases, if your big toenail is weeping, you should see a doctor. They will likely be able to determine the cause, and see if you have an abscess. If there is an abscess, the doctor will have to drain the pus, and they may take a biopsy for further investigation.
In some extreme cases, surgery may be necessary. Your doctor may need to remove part of the nail plate, or even a strip of infected skin, depending on the severity of your individual case.
If there is no abscess, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory, antifungal, or antibacterial treatments. In less severe cases, you can purchase these solutions over-the-counter. However, it’s important to know which type of infection you’re dealing with, so you can find the right treatment.
Can I Prevent an Infection Under the Toenail?
Unfortunately, preventing a toenail infection isn’t something you can always guarantee. There are too many potential factors and causes involved. However, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from potential infections.
- Practice proper hygiene with your feet. Wash them every day, and make sure they are dry after cleaning them. Again, moisture can create fungal problems, so keeping your feet as dry as possible is important. You should apply an antifungal and antibacterial powder for best results.
- It’s a good idea to keep your nails neatly clipped. This will help to prevent debris or moisture from getting trapped underneath and growing. Cut them straight across for best results.
- If your feet are prone to cracking or breaking open due to dryness, use a moisturizing agent regularly on the toes. If they do crack open, it can open you up to a bacterial infection.
- Make sure to always wear shoes that fit properly. Ill-fitted shoes that cramp your toes in one spot can cause repeated trauma.
It’s important to understand why your toenail might be weeping. If you feel as though you have one of the potential infections discussed above, talk with your doctor. They’ll be able to give you a direct diagnosis and recommend or prescribe a treatment.
Pay attention to your feet and toes as much as possible. Taking care of them regularly can help to prevent infections from getting out of control. If you do have other foot-related conditions that hurt, wearing Superfeet Green Heritage Insoles can really help.