March 27, 2019

How do you fix an ingrown toenail?

Foot and Ankle


If you trim your toenails too short, you may be putting yourself at an increased risk for an ingrown toenail. This causes your toenail to grow into the skin of your toe, rather than out. Most commonly, the big toe is affected.

What causes an ingrown toenail?

  • Cutting toenails too short
  • Cutting corners of your toenails at a curve to match the shape of your toe
  • Shoes that are too tight or too small
  • The toenail is too large for the toe
  • Stubbing your toe
  • Getting your toe stepped on

Symptoms of an ingrown toenail

  • A toenail that is hard, swollen and tender
  • Red, infected or sore toe
  • Redness, pain and swelling in the corner of the toenail

When should you go to the doctor for an ingrown toenail?

If you are unable to treat your toenail successfully or you are in extreme pain, you may visit a foot specialist. To determine whether you have an ingrown toenail, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history, have you describe your symptoms and how the injury occurred and conduct a physical examination.


How do you get rid of an ingrown toenail infection?

Treatment always begins with conservative treatment and includes:

  • Soaking the toe in warm water a few times every day
  • Wearing comfortable shoes or sandals
  • Taking over the counter pain medication for pain relief
  • Gently lifting the edge of the ingrown toenail and inserting cotton between the nail and skin (packing should be changed daily)

Ingrown toenail surgery and recovery

In extreme ingrown toenails, where there is also an infection, surgery may be necessary. Depending on the severity of the ingrown toenail, the nail may be partially or completely removed. Surgery will eliminate the nail edge from continuing to grow inward. It may take three to four months before your toenail regrows.
Understanding your feet and what shoes to wear

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Megan Golden

By Megan Golden

Megan Golden worked at OrthoIndy from 2012 to 2019, where she wrote a variety of content for our blog, magazines and inbound campaigns. Megan graduated from Ball State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising and communications studies minor.

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