Ingrown Toenail Treatment

What is an ingrown toenail?

Normally, when nails grow out, they grow over the surrounding skin. However, sometimes the nail may start to grow inward, into the surrounding flesh. When this occurs, it is known as an ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenails are more likely to occur if the nail is thick or curved, however, trauma to the toe and poor foot care can also cause the nail to grow abnormally. Although any toenail can grow into the skin, the big toe is most commonly affected. While an ingrown nail may seem harmless, if the nail penetrates through the skin, it can create a gateway for bacteria to enter and infect the skin.

What causes an ingrown toenail?

The most common causes of ingrown nails are tight footwear and improper nail grooming, such as trimming the nails too short or rounding out the corners of the nail. Other causes of ingrown nails may include:

  • Inheriting a genetic predisposition for ingrown nails
  • Sustaining direct trauma to the toe e.g., stubbing the toe
  • Other nail conditions e.g., fungal infections

What are the symptoms of an ingrown toenail?

Depending on the severity of the ingrown toenail, you may notice that the flesh surrounding the nail has begun to grow over the corners of the affected nail. This could be a slight overgrowth, covering just the outer top corner of the nail, or it can be a more extreme overgrowth, covering a whole section of the nail. Additional symptoms of an ingrown nail may include:

  • Pain around the affected area
  • Tenderness around the affected area
  • Redness around the toenail
  • Swelling around the toenail
  • Infection e.g., pus or drainage around the edges of the nail

How are ingrown toenails diagnosed?

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or believe you have an ingrown toenail, an evaluation by an experienced doctor can help confirm a diagnosis. The medical evaluation usually involves a review of your medical history and symptoms, along with a thorough physical examination of the affected nail and skin.

How are ingrown toenail treated?

From at-home treatment solutions to surgical solutions, an ingrown toenail can be treated in a variety of ways, including:

  • Epsom foot soak with warm water to help reduce inflammation and soften the skin
  • Freeing the nail by using a cotton ball wet with olive oil to gently move the skin of the affected nail
  • Oral medications to alleviate pain
  • Topical medications to help block infection
  • Appropriate footwear or sandals to relieve pressure on the affected toe

If infection occurs or if the above treatment options are ineffective, surgery, along with topical or oral antibiotics, may be recommended for partial or complete removal of the ingrown toenail and affected areas, including portions of the nail bed and soft tissue.

If you are experiencing symptoms of an ingrown toenail or would like to learn more about our available podiatric services and treatment, request an appointment with us today. Our friendly and accommodating staff provides prompt and punctual service and is dedicated to providing high-end, compassionate podiatric care. At Northeastern Foot & Ankle, board-certified podiatrist Dr. Khoury takes the time to carefully listen to and understand your medical and cosmetic concerns, recommending and providing the most appropriate treatment options paired with innovative and emerging technologies to help meet your podiatric needs. Call 973.473.6665 or scroll to the top of the page to request an appointment.