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How to Prevent and Treat Ingrown Toenails

A Pain in the Toe: Ingrown Toenails

In my experience, not being able to run because of an ingrown toenail is so uncool. There is absolutely zero glamour to it, not that any injury is glamorous, and ingrown toenails can be easily avoided. If you have never experienced this annoying problem let me explain — an ingrown toenail occurs when the corners of one of your toenails grows into the soft skin of your toe. This unorthodox nail growth pattern, usually on the big toe, causes the skin to become red, swollen, and can cause an infection. Aside from just plain hurting, if left untreated, an ingrown toenail can infect the underlying bone and lead to a serious bone infection. Yikes!

To find out how to prevent an ingrown toenail


  • Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight.
  • When trimming your toenails, cut them straight across — no rounded edges. Also avoid trimming the nails too short.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry.

To treat an ingrown toenail, soak your foot in warm salt water for 15 to 20 minutes. This will reduce swelling and sensitivity. Then use a nail file to lift the nail away from your skin and place a small piece of cotton under the nail. Do this twice a day until your toenail begins to grow out. Use a topical antibiotic in case there's an infection. If the pain doesn't go away or your symptoms get worse, make an appointment with a podiatrist. The doctor may need to cut away part of your skin or nail to encourage healing. If you have an infection, the podiatrist will prescribe antibiotics. Once your toe is back to normal, remember to take care of your feet to ensure this never happens again.


Join The Conversation
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
ugh - i think that sooo many of us have suffered from this at one time or another. ouch! i think that it's really helpful that you shared this solution and that there are things that we can do to treat them. i never thought about the cotton part of it all but i did know that you're supposed to soak your foot in salt water :)
amerikanbeanhead amerikanbeanhead 8 years
I used to get these all the time and they got SO infected that if I get one more bad infection in there I could loose my toe. not the nail THE WHOLE TOE! I eventually had to get essentially an acid burn in the side of my toenail bed so the nail literally cant grow in there. I still have problems with them trying to I get a pedi every month now. Twenty-five bucks a month and I get to be pampered AND I can keep my toe? Count me in! Dont do the cotton under the nail- I can hold the infection in there longer. Just get the nail out of the skin as fast as you can and soak it everyday in warm water with epsom salts and cover it with anbiotic ointment whenever possible. If it is already infected go to the podiatrist right away.
ffemt1201 ffemt1201 8 years
I used to get these really bad because I Irish step bad, in fact, I had to have the nail of my big toe cut out of the skin! Eek!!
sc-cutie sc-cutie 8 years
I used to get these all the time. Then I started getting a pedicure about once every three weeks, and I haven't gotten an ingrown nail one time since then.
Bandje50 Bandje50 8 years
Putting cotton underneath doesnt do anything, and can make the ingrown nail worse. You should go to a foot doctor to have your nail treated properly.
jessie jessie 8 years
i used to get them really bad.....then one day....this is gross...i let my toenails grow longer then usual...i was able to pull it out and cut down the side.....its easier for me to inflict pain on myself then for someone else to do it...go figure. :oy: but i found that if i kept them a bit longer, that i don't have problems....but thats just me.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I have really flat toenails, so these aren't usually a problem for me, but the other week I got one from wearing too tight shoes. I got rid of it by lifting the nail out of the skin and trimming it off. It healed up pretty nicely. My mom had one that was really bad and she had to see the podiatrist about it. He surgically removed most of her toenail and it now looks really weird and gross.
PiNkY-PiNk PiNkY-PiNk 8 years
my bf always fixes my ingrown nails. those things hurt sooo bad!
nobodymuch nobodymuch 8 years
Gosh, I hate these, I always get these whenever I up the mileage I run. One thing that's helped me a lot is lac-hydrin lotion, it kinda keeps the skin from growing over my nails.h
superfoxml superfoxml 8 years
oh man, my nails naturally curve in also. it's a pain to deal with and i am always dealing with ingrowns...
bengalspice bengalspice 8 years
I've had this my whole life ... plus my nails curve ... so nothing I can do about it [like jen1975 just said].
jen1975 jen1975 8 years
You're more likely to get them if you have toenails that are rounded instead of flat, and there's not so much you can do about that!
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