What is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail is a toenail that has grown
into the skin instead of over it. This usually happens to the big toe, but it
can also happen to other toes. An ingrown toenail can get infected. It may be
painful, red, and swollen, and it may drain pus. See a picture of an
Anyone can get an ingrown toenail, but adults get
them more than children do. People who have curved or thick nails are more
likely to get an ingrown toenail. This is more common in older adults.
What causes an ingrown toenail?
toenail can have a number of different causes. Cutting your toenail too short
or rounding the edge of the nail can cause it to grow into the skin. Wearing
shoes or socks that don't fit well can also cause an ingrown toenail. If your
shoes are too tight, they might press the nail into the toe and cause it to
grow into the skin.
You can get an ingrown toenail if you hurt
your toe, such as stubbing it. This can cause the nail to grow inward.
Repeating an activity that injuries the nail, such as kicking a soccer ball,
can also cause an ingrown nail.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom of an ingrown toenail is the
pain from the nail growing into the skin instead of over it. If the ingrown
toenail gets infected, it might be swollen or red, and it might drain pus. The
area around the ingrown toenail is often painful.
How is an ingrown toenail diagnosed?
Your doctor will do a physical
exam to diagnose an ingrown toenail. He or she will look at your toe where the
nail has grown into the skin.
How is it treated?
You can try the following steps at home to relieve
the pain caused by your ingrown toenail and help the nail to grow out
- Soak your sore toe in warm water for 15 minutes 2 to 3 times
- Wedge a
small piece of wet cotton, such as part of a cotton ball, under the corner of your
ingrown nail. This will help lift the nail off of the skin.
your toe and change the piece of cotton each day until the nail grows out and
can be trimmed.
- Do not use a sharp object like manicure scissors to
dig under your nail, because the toe might get infected.
- Do not try
to use a needle to drain the pus from your toe. This could make the infection
- While your ingrown toenail is healing, wear comfortable
shoes or sandals that do not press on your toe.
Use these home treatment steps for 3 days. If they do not
help, you might need to see your doctor. Be sure to see a doctor if
your toe gets infected. Your toe might be infected if it hurts more than it did
before you tried the home treatment. Call your doctor if your toe is red, warm,
swollen, or drains pus, or if there are red streaks leading from your