DISEASES AND CONDITIONS

Understanding Ingrown Toenails

June 17, 2019

Understanding Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown nails may cause pain at the tip of the toe or all the way to the base of the toe. The pain is often worse while walking. An ingrown nail may also lead to infection, inflammation, or a more serious condition. If it’s infected, you might see pus or redness.

How is an ingrown toenail diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your toe and possibly press the painful area. If other problems are suspected, blood tests, cultures, and X-rays may be done as well.

Treatment for ingrown toenails

If the nail isn’t infected, your healthcare provider may trim the corner of it to help relieve your symptoms. He or she may need to remove one side of your nail back to the cuticle. The base of the nail may then be treated with a chemical to keep the ingrown part from growing back. Severe infections or ingrown nails may require antibiotics and temporary or permanent removal of a portion of the nail. To prevent pain, a local anesthetic may be used in these procedures. This treatment may be done at your healthcare provider's office or at a hospital.

Preventing ingrown toenails

Many nail problems can be prevented by wearing the right shoes and trimming your nails properly. To help avoid infection, keep your feet clean and dry. If you have diabetes, talk with your healthcare provider before doing any foot self-care.

  • The right shoes: Get your feet measured (your size may change as you age). Wear shoes that are supportive and roomy enough for your toes to wiggle. Look for shoes made of natural materials such as leather, which let your feet to breathe.

  • Proper trimming: To prevent problems, trim your toenails straight across without cutting down into the corners. If you can’t trim your own nails, ask your healthcare provider to do so for you.

Updated:  

June 17, 2019

Reviewed By:  

Thomas N Joseph MD,Kenny Turley PA-C,L Renee Watson MSN RN