How To Treat Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are quite common, and very uncomfortable.  They can affect anyone at any age.from ingrown toenail

The medical term is onychrocryptosis.  Sometimes the nails presses against the skin without

actually breaking into the skin, but it still hurts.  A true ingrown nail has literally grown into the skin; degrees of severity vary from a small spike to a large section of nail.  Infection is common.

Causes of Ingrown Toenails:

  • Heredity.  Some people are born with a "pincer" shaped nail; instead of going straight across, the tip of the toenail is very curved on the edges, predisposing it to becoming ingrown.
  • Trauma
  • Shoe pressure
  • Improper nail trimming; especially easy to do if the nail is curving.  It is likely a sharp edge is left, or trimming goes sore toetoo far down the side of the nail.
  • Fleshy toe; the skin pushes into the nail
  • Pressure from the adjoining toe




  • Avoid tight socks or shoes
  • Trim carefully and evenly.  A curved nail is difficult to trim straight; be sure there are no sharp edges left that will irritate the skin.
  • Check the toe nails frequently for signs of becoming ingrown.
  • If you are disabled or diabetic, see a podiatrist.


If you are trying this at home first; follow these tips:

  1. Sterilize the clippers first.  Completely immerse them in betadine solution or alcohol (you can find these at the drugstore or pharmacy).
  2. Soak your foot to soften the tissues. Add at least a tablespoon of betadine to warm water and keep your toe in for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. After drying the area, gently ease the clipper between the skin and the nail; you may have to press against the skin in order to get behind the nail.  Trim at a bit of an angle; if you cut straight across it will grow back the same way.
  4. Follow with cleansing the area with betadine or alcohol (which may sting), and place a tiny bit of gauze behind the nail to relieve pressure.  Try to soak the toe for 10-20 minutes over the next few days, avoid tight shoes, and watch for any signs of infection (redness, warmth, discharge).

If this does not work:

  • The best thing to do is see a podiatrist; you may need an anesthetic and antibiotics.
  • The shape of the toenail is usually the problem, and that can be remedied by a podiatrist.  After numbing the toe, a sliver of the nail is removed including the base of the nail (otherwise it can grow back).  You will be able to walk out the door after the procedure; just limit vigorous activities for a couple of weeks (as recommended by your doctor).

Don't be afraid to get treatment!  Here are some funny excerpts by others who have been in your place:

 Ingrown toenailsmile

 For the past five years, I’ve had a recurring ingrown toenail - it has always been on my big toe, right foot, inside corner. Extremely painful, and, though I’m not exactly motivated to exercise anyways, it certainly has done nothing to ...

My “Ingrown Toenail” ordeal

It was official - I had an ingrown toenail that had become infected. Just another warning - this is going to get a bit graphic… In typical fashion, I waited until I could wait no longer, then finally I agreed with Cheria that it was ...

See an ingrown toenail removed:


For ingrown toenail relief from Dr. Burns' Store:

Gel separators

Gel tubes

Pain relief gel