Learn the Causes and Treatments for an Ingrown Toenail

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Ingrown happens when the toenail edges grow into the skin leading to irritation, painful discomfort, and swelling. When not managed, the nail continues to grow into the skin causing more discomfort with a risk of infection. This condition is most likely to happen to the big toe. 

Causes of Ingrown Toenails

Various situations cause this condition including poor nail trimming, inward curling of pincer nails, aggressive pedicure, and ill-fitting shoes. Ingrown of nails encourages imbalance and misalignment between toenail and cuticle size with the nearby skin. The toenail pushes against nearby skin when growing into the soft skin to cause swelling. 

Injuries that break the toenail, moisture, and swelling also cause ingrown toenails. This occurs when the skin near the toes is soft and swollen. Athletes are prone to ingrown toenails resulting from frequent perspiration in the shoes softening the nails and skin. Signs to tell you have an ingrown toenail include:

  • Redness around the toenail
  • Toe swelling around the nail
  • Tissue infection around the toenail
  • Toe pain and tenderness along one or both sides of the nail

Treatments for Ingrown Toenails

Leaving an ingrown toenail untreated makes it continue to grow inward encouraging chances of infection. Never hesitate to visit a professional podiatrist in Houston to guide you on the best treatment path to take. The severity of the condition varies by individual but neglecting to get professional assistance comes with more severe conditions. 

Conservative Ingrown Toenail Treatment

This is one of the treatment options to manage ingrown toenails. A podiatrist will cut a section off the ingrowing nail. This treatment option is much quicker and less painful. The most significant benefit of conservative ingrown toenail treatment is instant pain relief. If the ingrown becomes a persistent problem, the podiatrist will recommend a surgical operation. 

Surgical Ingrown Toenail Treatment

 The podiatrist administers a local anesthetic to numb the toe. Afterward, the ingrowing section of the nail is cut away. Phenol chemical is applied to the exposed nail area. This causes a bit of burning to the skin to inhibit further growth of that particular nail section. The toenail remains dressed for a day and recovery time is short and much quicker. Keep in mind that this treatment is not appropriate for children under 12 years, pregnant women, and those with a heart condition. 

Home Remedies

You can also apply some home remedies to relieve discomfort and encourage healing from ingrown toenails. Soak the affected toe for about 15 minutes in water several times daily to get relief from pain. Alternatively, you can use a small piece of wet cotton between the skin and corner of the affected toe. This separates the nail and skin lifting the nail to make it grow out for safe trimming. Make sure to change the cotton daily to inhibit bacteria growth. 

Things to Keep in Mind

Avoid draining an infected toe yourself. Always visit a podiatrist to lessen the chances of worsening the infection. Don’t use sharp objects to pry or reach under the ingrown toenail. This exposes the infection to worsen and complicating the healing process. Never hesitate to seek professional assistance to get relief from issues regarding ingrown toenails. 

Preventing Ingrown Toenails

Improper grooming is the most significant cause of ingrown toenails. Always soak the feet to soften the toenails before trimming them. Cut straight across the nail edge to prevent close trimming at the nail corners. Smooth rough edges using a nail file and avoid clipping to close to the skin. Straight edge nail clippers are better than scissors for easier control and to limit accidental cuts.

Ill-fitting or sharp-pointed shoes increase the chances of ingrown toenails. Avoid high heels for putting too much pressure on the toes. This increases chances of ingrown toenails and other issues. Athletes should avoid wet shoes to avoid keeping feet in cramped footwear. Always check your toes for any issues that might require professional assistance before the condition worsen.

Dangers of Leaving Ingrown Toenail Untreated

Young adults in the 20s and 30s and adolescents are more prone to ingrown toenails compared to children and infants. Additionally, this condition is more common in men than in women. When left untreated, an ingrown toenail encourages infection or abscess whose treatment requires surgery. Seek professional treatment early to avoid these complications. Keep in mind that the big toe has higher chances of ingrowing than other toes. 


Feet allow easy movement to wherever you like. Issues with your toes are likely to affect your movement. Toes are prone to ingrown, resulting from wearing ill-fitting shoes and blunt trauma. Never hesitate to visit a Houston podiatrist to get professional assistance for ingrown toenails. The podiatrist will recommend the most appropriate remedy to give you relief from ingrown toenail related pain. 

Latest posts by Nancy Ahuja (see all)

Nancy Ahuja

My name is Nancy Ahuja and I am a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content. I am working as a podiatrist in Houston to get knowledge about feet health and get some money.

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