Why Does My Big Toe Nail Hurt?

Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry M.B.B.S.
By Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry M.B.B.S.
Updated on November 15, 2023

Our toenails can experience pain and discomfort for a variety of reasons. As the big toe nail is one of the most stressed toenails, it is common to experience pain or tenderness. Understanding the common causes of big toe nail pain is important to determine the appropriate treatment.

Why does my big toe nail hurt?

One of the most common reasons your big toenail may hurt is due to an ingrown toenail. This occurs when the edges or sides of the toenail dig into the skin. It’s caused by improperly trimming the toenail or wearing shoes that are too tight or constricting. The skin becomes inflamed where it is being irritated by the toenail.

Other common causes:

Fungal infections under or around the nail, like onychomycosis, can cause pain, discoloration and thickening of the nail. Trauma from kicking objects may result in bruising or tenderness of the toe. Hammertoes can put abnormal pressure on the toenail area. Arthritis in the toe joints can make movement and pressure on the nail uncomfortable. Improper fitting shoes that cause rubbing or irritation can also lead to nail pain.

When to see a doctor:

See a podiatrist if the nail pain is severe, worsening, or accompanied by redness, swelling or drainage which could indicate infection. Nail or skin that has separated from the nail bed may require medical care. Do not attempt to remove or treat ingrown toenails yourself, as this could lead to further infection.


Understanding common causes of big toenail pain can help you determine appropriate self-care or whether to see a medical professional. Minor cases may clear with proper trimming and larger shoes. Severe or long-lasting pain should always be evaluated by a podiatrist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Read more:

0 %