toenails are a common condition in which the corner or side of
a toenail grows into the soft flesh. The result is pain,
redness, swelling and, sometimes, an infection. Ingrown
toenails usually affect your big toe.
you can take care of ingrown toenails on your own. If the pain
is severe or spreading, your doctor can take steps to relieve
your discomfort and help you avoid complications of ingrown
have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow
to your feet, you’re at greater risk of complications of
treat most ingrown toenails at home. Here’s how:
your feet in warm water. Do this for 15 to 20 minutes three to
four times a day. Soaking reduces swelling and relieves
Place cotton or dental floss under your toenail. After each
soaking, put fresh bits of cotton or waxed dental floss under
the ingrown edge. This will help the nail grow above the skin
Apply antibiotic cream. Put antibiotic ointment on the tender
area and bandage the toe.
Choose sensible footwear. Consider wearing open-toed shoes or
sandals until your toe feels better.
pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as
acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB,
others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) may help ease the toe
prevent an ingrown toenail:
your toenails straight across. Don’t curve your nails to
match the shape of the front of your toe. If you have your
toenails done at a salon, be sure to tell your pedicurist to
trim your nails straight across. If you have a condition that
causes poor blood flow to your feet and you can’t trim your
nails, see a podiatrist regularly to have your nails trimmed.
toenails at a moderate length. Trim toenails so they’re even
with the tips of your toes. If you trim your toenails too
short, the pressure from your shoes on your toes may direct a
nail to grow into the tissue.
shoes that fit properly. Shoes that place too much pressure on
your toes or pinch them may cause a nail to grow into
surrounding tissue. If you have nerve damage to your feet, you
may not be able to sense if your shoes fit too tightly. Take
care to buy and wear properly fitted shoes, preferably from a
shoe store specializing in fitting shoes for people with foot
protective footwear. If your work puts you at risk of injuring
your toes, wear protective footwear, such as steel-toed shoes.
Check your feet. If you have diabetes, check your feet daily
for signs of ingrown toenails or other foot problems.
remedies haven’t helped your ingrown toenail, your doctor
Lifting the nail. For a slightly ingrown nail (redness and
pain but no pus), your doctor may carefully lift the ingrowing
nail edge and place cotton, dental floss or a splint under it.
This separates the nail from the overlying skin and helps the
nail grow above the skin edge. At home, you’ll need to soak
the toe and replace the material daily.
Partially removing the nail. For a more severe ingrown toenail
(redness, pain and pus), your doctor may trim or remove the
ingrown portion of the nail. Before this procedure, your
doctor may temporarily numb your toe by injecting it with an
Removing the nail and tissue. If you have the problem
repeatedly on the same toe, your doctor may suggest removing a
portion of the nail along with the underlying tissue (nail
bed). This procedure may prevent that part of your nail from
growing back. Your doctor will use a chemical, a laser or
doctor may also recommend using topical or oral antibiotics,
especially if the toe is infected or at risk of becoming