Common Foot and Ankle Problems & Treatments
Ingrown Toenails

General Information

Edges of toenails that press into the flesh can cause pain, swelling, redness, and even infection.

Ingrown toenails start out hard, swollen and tender, and, later, may become sore, red and infected. Your skin may start to grow over the ingrown toenail.

What causes ingrown toenails?

  • Ingrown toenails can be  the result of your toe-nails being trimmed too short, particularly on the sides of your big toes. This can be done by you or a pedicurist.
  • Shoes that are too tight or short also may lead to  ingrown toenails.
  • A hereditary component may be present  in some people leading them to have more incurvated nail borders than others

How to avoid getting an ingrown toenail

  • Ingrown toenails are common, and can be painful.
  • When trimming your nails, avoid tapering the corners, otherwise the sides of the nail will curl down and dig into your skin.
  • Trim them so that the nail curves with the shape of your toe.
  • If any tenderness is present see one of the Doctors at Foot and Ankle specialists for treatment.


How can an ingrown toenail be treated?

We at Foot & Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic have a number of procedures to fix this problem, from using special chemicals on a Q-tip to lasers.

  • All methods remove the edge of the nail that presses into the skin. The procedure takes minutes to perform and rarely interferes with daily routines.
  • Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed, if an infection is present.
  • Part of your ingrown toenail (partial nail plate avulsion) may need to be removed surgically, if an acute infection occurs. The procedure involves injecting the toe with an anesthetic and cutting out the ingrown part of the toenail.
  • Soaking your foot in warm, soapy water several times each day is, usually, a good way to treat an ingrown nail. You can also try inserting some cotton or waxed dental floss between the nail and your skin.

Please contact your local Foot and Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic (FASMA) office to determine the best course of treatment for your condition.

How can I prevent ingrown toenails?

You can prevent ingrown toenails by:

  • Trimming your toenails straight across with no rounded corners.
  • Ensuring that your shoes and socks are not too tight.
  • Keeping your feet clean at all times.