The Facts on Ingrown Toenails:


Image of top of foot indicating where  pain occurs from an ingrown toenail. 

Ingrown toenails are a common condition in which the edge of the toenail grows into the skin of your toe. You can also get them when the skin on the side of your toe grows over the toenail. While any toe can be affected, your big toe is the most likely place to get one.

You may have an ingrown toenail if you experience pain, swelling and redness along the side of your toenail. You may also notice drainage or pus if you have developed an infection at the site.


There are many causes of ingrown toenails. Some of the most common include:

  • Curved or abnormally shaped toenails
  • Trauma that drives the nail into the skin
  • Tight shoes that push the curved toenail into the skin
  • Injury to the toenail causing abnormal growth
  • Cutting toenails too short or “digging” into the sides of them
  • Thickened toenails
  • Hereditary factors: It is common to see ingrown toenails in related family members


To get the ingrown toenail pain relief you need and get back to moving comfortably, you might try these tips:

  • Try ingrown toenail pain relief products that help soften the nail for easier trimming
  • Don’t trim your toenails too short. Trimming the toenails too short may allow the end of the toenail to grow into the skin
  • Don’t “dig” down into the side of your toenails
  • Trim your toenails relatively straight across.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly



Related Symptoms & Conditions
Related Articles
Frequently Asked Questions
How to fix an ingrown toenail

It’s often possible to deal with ingrown toenails at home. Follow these steps to treat an ingrown toenail:

• Soak the feet in warm water for about 15 minutes in order to soften the skin and nail.
• Gently push the nail up and away from the skin. A small bit of waxed dental floss or cotton can be placed under the nail. Once the nail is away from the skin, it can be trimmed.
• To heal an ingrown toenail, apply an antibiotic ointment and a sterile bandage to protect the toe and reduce the risk of infection. To ease discomfort, apply an over-the-counter topical ingrown toenail pain relief product.
• To take care of an ingrown toenail while it heals, wear loose-fitting or open toed shoes. You can also wear a toe protector.

To help an ingrown toenail that doesn’t heal despite efforts to resolve the issue at home, see a doctor. This is especially important if there is severe pain or infection.

How to get rid of an ingrown toenail

When it’s not possible to treat or fix an ingrown toenail at home, a healthcare professional should be consulted. They know what to do for an ingrown toenail. There are several options for getting rid of ingrown toenails that don’t respond to home treatment:

• Nail lifting involves raising the nail and placing some sort of material such as cotton underneath the nail so that it no longer grows into the skin.
• Partial removal of the nail may be required if the ingrown nail is more severe.
• Total removal of the nail and nail bed may be necessary if ingrown nails continue to occur despite treatment and prevention efforts.

How to remove an ingrown toenail

Do not attempt to remove an ingrown toenail yourself. If you’re not able to correct an ingrown toenail at home or if you suspect an infection, see a doctor. They can evaluate the situation and make a recommendation for how to treat an infected ingrown toenail.

Infection from an ingrown toenail may be treatable with antibiotic ointment. In other cases, oral antibiotics may be prescribed to get rid of an infected ingrown toenail. Your doctor can also determine how to take out an ingrown toenail if necessary, either by removing part of the nail or by removing the entire nail and nail bed. Ingrown toenails should only be removed by a healthcare professional.

What does an ingrown toenail look like?

When a toenail is ingrown, the edge of the nail is embedded in the skin rather than resting above or alongside of the skin. In many cases, the skin will appear swollen and red.

How do you know if you have an ingrown toenail?

It’s not always easy to know if you have an ingrown toenail but there are common symptoms. There is often pain and tenderness along the side of the nail. The area may be red and inflamed around the nail, and in some cases, there may be pus. It might be necessary to consult with a healthcare provider in order to confirm an ingrown toenail.

How to prevent ingrown toenails

There are several ways to stop ingrown toenails:

• Trim toenails straight across rather than at an angle.
• Avoid trimming nails too short.
• Wear shoes that fit properly. Stay away from shoes that are too tight and press against the tips of the toes since the constant pressure of tight shoes can cause nails to grow into the skin.
• Wear protective closed toed shoes when there’s a potential for injury.

How to cure an ingrown toenail

While ingrown toenails can often be treated at home, recurring ingrown toenails may require permanent removal of the nail and nail bed by a healthcare provider. This is the only way to fix ingrown toenails permanently.

How to cut an ingrown toenail

For minor ingrown toenails, soak the feet in warm water for about 15 minutes. This can help to get an ingrown toenail out. Gently lift the nail away from the skin. A small bit of cotton or dental floss can be placed under the nail to separate it from the skin. Once the edge of the nail is exposed, use a clean pair of nail clippers to cut the nail.

How do you get an ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenails occur when the edge of the nail grows into the skin. Some people have curved nails that are especially prone to the problem. Trimming nails too short or at an angle, wearing tight shoes and toe injuries can also increase the risk of ingrown toenails.

How to fix an ingrown toenail with dental floss

In order to treat an ingrown toenail at home using dental floss, soak the foot for 15 minutes in warm water first. Then gently lift up the corner of the nail that’s become ingrown and place a small piece of waxed dental floss underneath the edge of the nail. This can help prevent the nail from growing into the skin and encourage the nail to grow over the skin instead. Once the edge of the nail is exposed, it can be trimmed using nail clippers.