Ingrown Toenail Causes Treatment

Ingrown Toenail: Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Ingrown toenail can affect all people alike. When you suffer from the problem the corners or edges of your nails can grow into the skin next to your nail. In most cases, the big toe can suffer from the issue. The nail disease can lead to pain, swelling, and in some cases, severe infection. The growing of a nail into the soft flesh can result in the condition. You can handle the condition easily at home. But, failure to address the problem can result in complications that need medical treatment to alleviate. Without proper management, the condition can cause severe discomfort and pain. So, you need to avoid complications by getting treatment at the right time.

The condition can worsen when you have health problems like diabetes. The high blood sugar levels can lead to poor blood circulation. So, the risk of complication due to the nail problem increases. You need medical assistance if your pain spreads and have severe discomfort. You can prevent the simple issue from worsening with proper care. So, read ahead to get more information about the problem.

What Do You Mean By Ingrown Toenail?

An ingrown toenail is also referred to as onychocryptosis or unguis incarnates. Onychocryptosis is a Greek word. Onyx in Greek means nail while kryptos means hidden. It is the common form of nail disease affecting anyone at any point in their life. Due to the condition, you can observe the edge of the sharp corner of the nail digging into the skin or at the side of the toe. So, the nail can grow and cut into one or both sides of the nail bed or paronychium. The condition can cause immense pain. You can also observe inflammation at the specific spot where your nails cut into the skin. At later stages, the inflammation can worsen, leading to the growth of extra tissue or drainage of yellowish fluid.

Ingrown Toenail

The condition can affect the nail of both hands as well as feet. But, the majority of cases occur with your toenails compared to fingernails. So, you can experience pain and complication on our big toe. The condition is common among adolescents and adults. But, you can only find a few cases of similar kind in children and infants. The problem mostly affects men compared to women. So, men in their twenties or thirties need to maintain caution and take necessary action when they experience the problem.

Symptoms Of Ingrown Toenail

Nail disorder is a common problem. But, it causes no life-threatening complications. The symptoms can change with different stages. You can experience discomfort and pain during the later stages. You observe most of the signs on your big toe. But, other areas can also get affected. So, you can observe the following signs:

Early Stage Symptoms

During the early stage of an ingrown toenail, you can see changes in the skin of the affected region. So, look for the following signs:

  • The skin next to the nail becomes red, tender or hard
  • You can see mild swelling in the area
  • Experience pain when you place pressure on the affected area (for example, toe)
  • No pus or drainage
  • The affected area feels warm to touch
  • No fever

When you get some treatments for the issue, the nail disorder can go away without causing you any pain or discomfort.

Second Stage Symptoms

If you fail to get treatment to manage the condition, it can worsen. You see that extra skin as well as tissue growth. It mostly grows around the sharp point of your nail. You can see fluid building up around the affected region. In most cases, yellowish drainage may begin. But, the problem does not cause infection at the current stage. The signs only indicate your body’s natural response of the irritation caused by the nail on your skin.

Later Stage Symptoms

When you ignore the nail problem, it can lead to the development of infection. In such cases, you can see severe signs that cause you discomfort. So, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Severe swelling
  • Red skin surrounds your lighter colored area of skin
  • Immense pain
  • Possibility of bleeding
  • Yellow or white-colored drainage (pus) from the affected area
  • A fever may develop, although this is unusual.
  • Overgrowth of skin around the toe
  • Fever may develop (in rare cases)

So, you need to get treatment from a medical professional to manage the severe signs. When you seek treatment as early as possible, you can avoid any potential complications. People who experience the following signs due to ingrown toenail need to see a doctor immediately:

  • Suffer from severe discomfort in your toe
  • Oozing of pus from the affected area
  • Redness in the areas that spreads with passing time
  • Experience foot sore or any type of infection
  • Have diabetes or other medical condition leading to poor blood flow in your feet

A doctor can offer the right treatment for managing the problem without further complications.

Causes Of Ingrown Toenail

You may wonder what causes the nail problem. The condition can affect both men and women. It is a common issue with teenagers and people with sweaty feet. Older people can also experience the problem as they have thick toenails due to their advancing age. So, it puts them at risk of the nail disorder. Many things can lead to nail disorder, including:

Incorrect Toenail Cutting

When you cut your toenails incorrectly, it can result in the condition. When you cut them short, It can lead to the skin at the sides of your nail to fold over. Therefore, you need to cut the toenail straight across. The cut angling at the nail sides encourages nail growth into the skin and prevent the condition.

Irregular Toenails

People with irregular toenails can suffer from nail disorder. The curved toenails can cause the corners of the nail to dig into your skin. So, you need to trim the nails straight across. Never round it as the curved shape can increase the chances of an ingrown toenail.

Ill-Fitting Footwear

Ill-Fitting Footwear

When you wear ill-fitting footwear, it can place a lot of pressure on your feet, especially the big toes. So, when you choose tight socks or stockings it can result in nail condition. Similarly, wearing shoes that are too narrow, right, or flat for your feet can compress the toes together. The excess pressure makes the nail grow abnormally.

Injury/Trauma To Feet

When you suffer an injury or trauma to your toes, it can result in the nail condition. So, stubbing or dropping something heavy on your toes can lead to the problem. The excess or repeated pressure on your toes can result in ingrown nail growth.

Poor Posture

Your posture can play an important part in the development of nail disease. So, the way you walk or stand can increase the chances of developing the condition.


Certain infections like fungal infection can lead to your nails becoming thick. The infection can cause widening of the toenail. So, it can result in the nail disorder.

Improper Foot Hygiene

Bad hygiene can lead to an ingrown toenail. If you fail to keep the feet dry or clean, then it can trigger several problems. Apart from smelly feet, you can also suffer from nail problems.

Genetic Predisposition

Genetic predisposition makes you vulnerable to toenail problems. If you have a member of your family suffering from the issue, then you have more chances of developing the issue. The bone structure underneath your toes can cause your nails to look rounded or upturned. The family trait can increase your chances of developing the issue in the future.

Extensive Athletic Activities

People who are into sporting activities can develop a nail problem. You tend to use your feet extensively for athletic activities. The repeated use of the feet can put pressure on your feet. When you use your feet for frequent athletic activities like kicking or putting pressure for long periods can result in toenail damage. So, you can experience more risk of developing an ingrown toenail. People involved in the following activities need to maintain caution.

  • Football
  • Ballet
  • Soccer
  • Kickboxing

Complications Due To Ingrown Toenail

People can face a specific nail problem anytime in their life. Some may not pay attention to the issue and choose to ignore it. Others fail to get treatment due to not detecting the issue on time. You can face severe complications in both cases. The problem needs attention as early as possible to prevent the following complications:

Serious Bone Infection

Without proper treatment, the ingrown toenail can cause infection of the underlying bone. So, you can suffer from a serious bone infection. The infection in the bone of your toe can lead to the following issues:

Life-Threatening Infection

People with diabetes can suffer from serious foot infection due to the nail problem. The high blood sugar can cause the toenail to become infected. It is due to the nerve sensitivity and lack of blood flow. So, people with diabetes can suffer from severe complication due to infection caused by the nail problem.

Recurrent Ingrown Toenail

If your family history of nail problems, then the problem can keep coming back. It can affect one or both toes at the same time. So, your quality of life can get affected adversely. You can suffer from pain, infections, and other issues. It requires multiple medical treatments or surgeries based on the severity. At times you need to undergo partial or full matrixectomy to remove toenails triggering pain and discomfort.

Diagnosis Of Ingrown Toenail

When you suffer from pain and severe discomfort on your toe, you need to see your doctor. When the condition worsens, you need to see a medical professional. A doctor can diagnose the severity of the nail problem and offer an appropriate treatment option to get relief. Therefore, your doctor can opt for the following diagnostic options to detect the problem:

Physical Examination

You suffer from different signs due to an ingrown toenail. Your doctor performs a physical assessment of your feet, nail, and surrounding skin to detect any problems.


The imaging tests like x-ray can provide information about the infection and its severity. The images can help your doctor detect how deep the infection has grown into your skin. The images can also offer evidence of trauma or injury that results in the condition.

Blood Tests

If your doctor suspects an infection as the underlying cause of nail problem, then you need to provide a blood sample. The blood tests can reveal the presence of infection and its type.

Treatment For Ingrown Toenail

The treatment for the nail problem depends on the severity of the issue. You need treatment as soon as symptoms appear. It is especially a necessity for affected people who have diabetes, poor circulation in your foot, nerve damage in the leg or foot. So, you can follow the below-mentioned options for avoiding complications:

Home Remedies For Ingrown Toenail

For stage one of the problem, you can treat the issue at home. Therefore, you can follow the lifestyle as well as home remedies:

Soak Your Feet

You need to soak your feet in warm water for at least fifteen to twenty minutes for three to four times a day. Soaking your feet can reduce the swelling in the affected area. It is not necessary to add Epsom salts or other substances to the warm water. So, you can get relief from the tenderness.

Opt For Sensible Footwear

You need to opt for good footwear that eases the pressure from your toes. So, consider wearing sandals until your condition clears. Open-toed shoes can also make you feel better. Avoid wearing tight-fitting or high heeled shoes to avoid the problem from worsening.

Keep Your Feet Clean

Good foot hygiene is essential for preventing the problem from worsening. Washing the foot with soapy water twice a day can keep the area clean. You need to keep your feet clean and dry to avoid smelly feet and other nail problems.

Apply Antibiotic Cream

You can apply antibiotic cream to the affected area. Bandage the toe to get the optimal effects of antibiotic cream. It can manage infections caused due to bacteria and offer you relief.

Lift Nail Digging Into Skin

Lift Nail Digging Into Skin

You can try to lift the ingrown edge of the nail above the skin. You need to place a dental floss, toothpick or cotton under the affected toenail. Place the cotton, toothpick or dental floss and gently lift the nail. It can help it grow above the edge.

Take Pain Relievers

The nail problem can cause pain. So, you can take over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen to get relief from the agony.

Medical Treatment For Ingrown Toenail

Medical Treatment For Ingrown Toenail

If the home remedies fail to give results, then you need to consult a doctor immediately. Your doctor can diagnose the severity of the condition and suggest the following treatments:

Nail Lifting

Your doctor can slightly life the ingrown nail to the skin surface. It is performed when you have no pus around the region. It can provide relief from redness and pain. The doctor carefully places the nail edge and place splint, dental floss or cotton under it. It can separate the nail from your overlying skin. So, the nail starts growing above the skin edge. After the process, you need to soak your toe and replace the splint/cotton/dental floss.

Alleviate Infection

If your doctor suspects infection in the region, then you need to prescription topical or oral antibiotics. The prescribed medication can clear infection or prevent an infection from affecting your toenail.

Partial Nail Removal

Severe cases with presence of redness, pain, and pus requires partial removal of the nail. Before the procedure, your doctor numbs the tow by injecting an anesthetic. Then, your doctor trims or removes the ingrown nail portion. The procedure is known as toenail avulsion. Your doctor can remove the folds of skin present on either side of the toenail.

Removing Nail And Tissue

If you have a genetic disposition of the nail problem, then you can suffer from the same problem repeatedly. So, your doctor removes the portion of the nail along with the nail bed (the underlying tissue). It prevents the nail from growing back. Your doctor can opt for laser or chemical methods to get results.

So, based on your condition, the doctor can suggest an ideal solution that will help manage the pain and discomfort associated with the issue.

Preventing Ingrown Toenail

You can prevent the condition from affecting you by adopting some steps. It will help you avoid the problem.

Careful Trimming

You must avoid trimming the toenail to match the shape of your toe front (curved shape). You need to trim it straight across to avoid complication. People visiting salons for pedicure must tell the pedicurist about trimming the nails straight across. Some individual suffers from condition leading to poor blood flow to the feet (for example, diabetic). In such cases, you need to see a podiatrist to trim your nail regularly.

Moderate Toenail Length

You need to keep your toenail at a moderate length. You need to trim them, make them even with the toe tips. Keeping the toenails short can put pressure from your shoes on the toes. So, it can result in the nail to grow into your tissue.

Well-Fitting Shoes

Wear a proper shoe that fits you properly. Shoes can put pressure on your toes or can pinch the toes. So, it can result in the nail to grow into the surrounding tissue. People suffering from neuropathy (nerve damage) cannot sense the tight-fitting of the shoes. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain caution while buying shoes. Opt for a store specializing in fitting shoes for people suffering from foot problems.

Use Protective Footwear

Use Protective Footwear

If you perform work that puts you at risk of injuring your toes (athletic activities), then wear suitable footwear. Try to use footwear (such as steel-toed shoes) to protect the toes.

Monitor Your Feet

People with health problems like diabetes can suffer from foot problems. So, you need to check your feet daily for signs of ingrown toenail or other issues.


An ingrown toenail may not cause serious problems. Mild cases of nail problems can improve within a week without causing any permanent damage. You can adopt some home remedies to ease the pain and discomfort associated with the problem. Ignoring the nail problem can result in severe agony and infection. You can suffer from serious complication due to the issue. In such cases, you need medical attention to prevent spreading of infection to the bone. With medical management, you can prevent further issues. People who are at risk of getting the problem frequently need to talk to their doctor to take necessary steps to manage the issue. Therefore, with proper care, you can alleviate the nail problem.

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