Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail is one that digs into surrounding skin (usually on the big toe). It can cause discomfort, pain, tenderness, and redness. Sometimes it gets infected.


Possible causes include:

  • Jamming your toes by making sudden stops, especially while playing sports like tennis or basketball
  • Wearing tight-fitting shoes or socks
  • Clipping toenails too far back, so that the corners penetrate the skin as they grow out
  • Having wider-than-average toenails

Home treatment generally is all that is needed for ingrown toenails. If home treatment fails to work, a physician or podiatrist may have to surgically remove the troublesome portion of the nail.


  • Cut nails straight across. Don’t cut the nails shorter at the sides than in the middle.
  • File the corners of the nail if they’re sharp after clipping them.
  • -Wear shoes and socks that fit well.

Questions to Ask

Has your toenail shown any signs of infection, such as redness, tenderness, and/or is it filled with pus?

Yes: See Doctor


Do you have diabetes mellitus or circulation problems?
Yes: Call Doctor

Do you get ingrown toenails frequently?
Yes: Call Doctor

Provide Self-Care

Self-Care Tips

Home remedies for a painful ingrown toenail include these steps:

  • Soak your foot in warm, soapy water for 5-10 minutes, 1-3 times a day.
  • Gently lift the nail away from the reddened skin at the outer corners with the tip of a nail file.
  • Place a small piece of cotton soaked in an antiseptic or topical antibiotic, such as Neosporin, just under the outer corners, if you can.
  • Repeat the previous 3 steps daily until the nail begins to grow correctly and pressure is relieved. (Wear roomy shoes during this time.)

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Written by American Institute for Preventive Medicine

Explore Wellness in 2021