Ingrown Toenails: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Medically Reviewed By : Dr K. Hari Chandana

( Fellowship in Trauma, Fellowship in Pain Management )

ingrown toenails


An ingrown nail of the toe, also known as an ingrown toenails, is a common and often painful condition that occurs when the edge of the nail grows into the surrounding skin. This can lead to redness, swelling, and discomfort around the affected area. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, treatment options, and preventive measures to address ingrown toenails promptly and maintain healthy feet.

Symptoms of an Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails can cause several uncomfortable symptoms, including:

1. Pain and Discomfort:

The foremost sign of an ingrown toenail is pain and tenderness around the affected toe. Pressure from the nail digging into the skin can cause considerable discomfort.

2. Redness and Swelling:

The area around the ingrown toenail may become red and swollen due to inflammation.

3. Formation of Pus or Infection:

If left untreated, the ingrown nail of the toe can lead to the development of pus or infection, characterized by the drainage of yellowish fluid.

4. Changes in Nail Appearance:

The nail may appear curved or jagged at the edges as it grows into the skin, leading to an abnormal nail shape.

Risk Factors

Certain factors increase the likelihood of developing ingrown toenails, including:

1. Improper Nail Trimming Techniques:

Cutting the nails too short or rounding the edges can encourage the nail to grow into the skin.

2. Wearing Ill-Fitting Footwear:

Tight-fitting shoes or high heels can put pressure on the toes and contribute to ingrown toenails.

3. Genetics and Anatomical Factors:

Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to ingrown toenails or certain foot structures that make them more susceptible to this condition.

4. Foot Injuries:

Ingrown nail of a toe is a condition that acts as Injuries to the toe or repetitive trauma can make it worse.


Taking preventive measures can reduce the risk of ingrown toenails.

A. Correct Nail Care and Trimming Practices:

Trim your nails straight across and avoid cutting them too short. Gently file the edges to maintain a smooth contour.

B. Choosing Appropriate Footwear:

 Opt for comfortable shoes with enough room for your toes to move freely.

C. Avoiding Trauma to the Toes:

Protect your feet from injuries during sports or other activities.

D. Regular Foot Hygiene:

 Keep your feet clean and dry to prevent infections.

ingrown nail of the toe

Home Remedies for Mild Cases

For mild ingrown toenails, you can try the following home remedies:

A. Warm Foot Soaks:

Soaking your foot in warm water can help reduce inflammation and ease discomfort.

B. Elevating the Affected Foot:

Elevating the foot can help reduce swelling.

C. Applying Topical Antibiotics:

Using over-the-counter antibiotic ointments can prevent or treat infections.

D. Using Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers:

Non-prescription pain relievers can help alleviate pain and discomfort.

Medical Treatment Options

In more severe cases, medical intervention may be necessary.

A. Partial Nail Avulsion:

A doctor may partially remove the ingrown portion of the nail to provide relief.

B. Total Nail Avulsion:

In extreme cases, the entire nail may need to be removed to allow the area to heal properly.

C. Antibiotics for Infections:

If an infection is present, oral or topical antibiotics may be prescribed.

D. Wedge Resection Procedure:

This surgical procedure involves removing a portion of the nail and the underlying tissue to prevent future ingrowth.

ingrown toenail treatment


Neglecting an ingrown toenail can lead to various complications.

A. Chronic Infections:

Untreated infections can become chronic and difficult to manage.

B. Development of Abscesses:

Pus-filled pockets can form around the affected area.

C. Formation of Granulomas:

Excessive tissue growth may occur as a response to the ingrown nail.

D. Nail Deformities:

Long-term ingrown toenails can cause permanent changes to the nail’s shape and texture.

When to Seek Professional Help

Consult a healthcare professional if you experience:

A. Persistent Pain and Discomfort:

Especially if it interferes with daily activities.

B. Signs of Infection:

Such as increased redness, swelling, warmth, or drainage.

C. Recurring Ingrown Toenails:

Frequent occurrences should be evaluated by a podiatrist.

D. Diabetic or Immunocompromised Individuals:

People with diabetes or weakened immune systems should seek prompt medical attention.

After treatment, follow these guidelines for a smooth recovery:

A. Keeping the Area Clean and Dry:

Especially if it interferes with daily activities.

B. Wearing Open-Toed Shoes During Healing:

Open footwear reduces pressure on the affected toe.

C. Following Post-Treatment Instructions:

Adhere to your healthcare provider’s recommendations for a successful recovery.

D. Watching for Signs of Recurrence:

Be vigilant and address any signs of the ingrown toenail returning.


Ingrown toenails can be painful and problematic, but with the right knowledge and early intervention, they can be managed effectively. Proper nail care, suitable footwear, and timely medical attention when needed can prevent and address ingrown toenails, allowing you to maintain healthy and happy feet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ingrown toenails are often caused by improper nail trimming techniques, wearing tight-fitting shoes, genetics, and foot injuries. When the edge of the nail grows into the surrounding skin, it can lead to irritation and inflammation.

Yes, ingrown toenails are a common condition, affecting people of all ages. They are more prevalent in individuals who frequently wear tight shoes or engage in activities that put pressure on the toes.

To prevent ingrown toenails, follow these tips: Trim your nails straight across, choose comfortable and well-fitting shoes, protect your feet from injuries, and maintain good foot hygiene by keeping your feet clean and dry.

An ingrown toenail infection may present with increased redness, swelling, warmth, and the formation of pus around the affected area. It can also cause persistent pain and tenderness.

For mild cases, home remedies like warm foot soaks and applying topical antibiotics may provide relief. However, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional if the condition worsens or if there are signs of infection.

You should seek medical help if you experience persistent pain, signs of infection, recurrent ingrown toenails, or if you have diabetes or a weakened immune system.

Medical treatments may include partial or total nail avulsion, antibiotics for infections, and the wedge resection procedure, where a portion of the nail and surrounding tissue are removed to prevent future ingrowth.

Yes, you can reduce the risk of recurrence by following proper nail care, wearing appropriate footwear, and being mindful of foot hygiene. Regularly inspect your toes for any early signs of ingrown nails and address them promptly.

 Ingrown toenails can affect people of all ages, but they may be more common in teenagers and young adults due to their involvement in sports and other activities that can lead to foot injuries.