Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are a frustrating and painful problem affecting millions of Americans every year. Instead of growing out like normal, the side or corner of a toenail—usually, but not always, on the big toe—digs sideways into the flesh. The result is pain, swelling, serious discomfort wearing shoes, or even infection (especially if you have diabetes.)

There is good news, however. The condition is pretty easy to treat, and you can find relief very quickly with proper care. If you’ve been suffering for weeks, or your ingrown toenail keeps coming back, there is a solution and you don’t have to keep living like this.

lifting ingrown toenail

What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

The most common contributing causes may include:

  • Genetics. Unfortunately, some people are especially prone to developing ingrown toenails due to inherited traits. This might be the case if your nails are especially curved. Those who suffer from ingrown toenails frequently, or from an early age, may fall into this category.
  • Poor nail trimming. If you cut your nails too short—especially at the corners—you are more likely to develop an ingrown toenail. Cut straight across, with a little length left on the end.
  • Tight footwear. When you crowd the front of your feet in shoes that are too short or too narrow, the pressure can push your nails downward and sideways into the surrounding skin.
  • Injuries. The ingrown toenail might be the result of a traumatic injury (e.g., stubbing your toe against a table leg) or chronic overuse (e.g., kicking soccer balls.)

Ingrown Toenail Treatment Procedures

If there is already a serious infection, it may be necessary to deal with that first. You might have to be on antibiotics for a week or two before the removal procedure. Most cases, however, can be treated right from the office during the same initial appointment. We’ll provide a local anesthetic and gently remove the ingrown edge of the toenail. There should be minimal if any pain as a result of this procedure. The relief you feel afterward is incredible! Typically, we will also remove part of the nail matrix (the tissue responsible for growing new nails) using a chemical agent. This prevents the ingrown toenail from returning—and since only the edge of the nail matrix needs to be removed, the rest of the nail should still look quite natural. Although this procedure is an option, we highly recommend it for most patients, especially young children. Why risk going through the pain again and again when you don’t have to?  

toenails on white pillow

What Should I Do About My Ingrown Toenails?

Some doctors suggest home remedies for mild ingrown toenails, including soaking your feet or trying to lift the ingrown edge of the nail with a piece of cotton or dental floss. While these strategies can work in some circumstances, we do not recommend them. If they fail, it will only mean more pain and a greater risk of infection. And even if they succeed, they are likely to return.

By contrast, an ingrown toenail removal can usually be performed as a same-day in-office procedure—no need to re-appoint—and provides safe, fast, and permanent relief. This is a much better option for most patients, especially children.