How to Care for Ingrown Toenails


When the edge of your toenail penetrates the soft skin on the side of your toe, it can quickly become painful and debilitating. The main cause of ingrown toenails is cutting the nails too short and rounded rather than straight across. Shoes that are too tight can put pressure on the toes and exacerbate any tendency of the nails to grow inward, so properly fitted footwear is essential.

Symptoms of an Ingrown Toenail

The symptoms of an ingrown toenail are usually pretty obvious and will include pain, redness, and swelling of the skin at the edge of the nail. Your toe may be extremely sensitive to pressure and a fluid discharge may be present indicating a possible infection.

Treating Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail that is not too severe will often respond well to foot soaks and elevation to take the pressure off the toe and allow healing to occur. You can also try to lift up the edge of the nail where it is penetrating the skin and insert a small piece of cotton underneath to redirect the nail away from your skin. 

Any signs of oozing or redness should be immediately brought to the attention of your foot doctor to avoid possible spreading of the infection to the underlying tissue and bone. Severe ingrown toenails may require removal of part of the nail to provide relief. This is an outpatient procedure that has a short recovery period. 

Individuals with diabetes need to be extremely careful to visually check for ingrown toenails and any other cuts or scrapes on the feet to help prevent infection and possible amputation.

How to Prevent Ingrown Toenails

Many cases of ingrown toenails can be prevented by remembering to cut your toenails straight across and not too short. Make sure you have properly fitted shoes that are not too tight, and that there is ample wiggle room in the front.  They also must be appropriate for the activity you will be performing.

For more expert advice on ingrown toenail treatment, consult with your foot care specialist. At E.J. Nemet Podiatry in Twinsburg,  E.J. Nemet, DPM, treats a variety of foot and ankle conditions, including sports injuriespediatric foot problems, diabetic foot complications, nerve disorders, and toenail and skin conditions. With advanced technologies and a dedicated staff, Dr. Nemet provides expert and compassionate care to patients in the Twinsburg and Beachwood areas. To contact us or to schedule an appointment, please call (234) 212-9940.