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Inflammation or Infection of a Toe, Foot, or Ankle

Infection can develop after an injury or wound to the skin. Signs of infection may include:

  • Increased pain, swelling, redness, or warmth around the affected area.
  • Red streaks extending from the affected area.
  • Pus draining from the area.
  • Fever.

Inflammation develops as a normal protective response of the immune system when body tissue is irritated for whatever reason. When tissue is irritated, the immune system increases blood flow to the area. This causes localized swelling, warmth, and redness. The swelling may put pressure on nerve endings which may cause pain in the area. Inflammation may occur in joints or extremities. Inflammation may occur with overuse of a body area or with minor injuries. Symptoms of inflammation may be present in conditions such as bursitis, arthritis, or tendinitis.

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It may be hard to tell the difference between inflammation or an infection, so be sure to evaluate any other symptoms that are present.

Pain and swelling that occur without an injury and with redness, red streaking, tenderness, heat, fever, or pus may be caused by an infection. Infections can occur without a known injury to the affected area.

  • Pain, swelling, redness, and warmth that develop suddenly in a big toe joint may be caused by gout.
  • Other conditions or diseases that may cause inflammation include:

Minor infections may go away on their own or with home treatment measures. These include:

More serious infections should be evaluated by your health professional. These include:

People who have diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, or an impaired immune system are more likely to develop a toe or foot infection or have complications from an infection.

Mild inflammation or minor infections usually will clear up on their own.

Prompt medical treatment of an infection can prevent serious complications.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised October 1, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 01, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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