Ingrown Toenails

If you are experiencing pain, tenderness, swelling, and/or redness surrounding your toenail, you could be suffering from an ingrown nail. This common foot problem is treated mostly with home remedies and medication, but you may need to see a podiatrist in some circumstances to avoid further pain and/or infection.

What Causes An Ingrown Nail

  • Tight shoes or high heels that push the toenail forward into the edge of the shoe, causing pressure on the nail and abnormal growth.
  • Trimming your nails, if done improperly, can cause the nail to dig into the corners of your skin. Always trim straight across, not rounded.
  • Toenail fungus, or other fungal infections, that cause the toenail to grow thicker or wider.
  • Injury, repetitive damage, or trauma to the nail.
  • Heredity. Some nails are naturally more rounded than others and are more susceptible to developing ingrown nails.


  • The end of your toe may look red and could be painful with mild swelling. There is a possibility that it may feel warm to the touch as well.
  • After you observe the above symptoms you will notice an extra layer of skin/tissue growing around a sharp point in the nail. You may experience a yellow liquid. This is not always an infection but should be watched closely.
  • An ingrown nail could cause an infection, where the swelling would become much worse and you may observe yellow or white tinted fluid. Although unusual, you may develop a fever, in which case you should see your podiatrist.

Home Remedies
Early in the stages of your ingrown toenail symptoms, you have the opportunity to be successful in preventing a doctor visit or surgery by appropriately taking care of your ingrown nail. Here are some tips you can try at home:

  • Soak your foot in warm water four times a day. There is no need to add soap or other products.
  • Wash the infected area twice a day with soap and water. Make sure to keep clean and dry for the rest of the day.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting shoes or high heels. Wearing sandals is your best option, if possible.
  • If there is no improvement within three days, it is important to call your podiatrist.

Proper Prevention

  • Wear proper-fitting shoes.
  • Keep feet clean and dry.
  • Trim nails straight across and keep the nail longer than the skin edge, making sure not to cut too short.

When To See A Podiatrist
If there is no sign of infection, home remedies are most likely your best option. If you don’t experience signs of improvement within three days of trying home remedies or you develop a fever, you should seek treatment with a podiatrist.

When you come in for your appointment, you will be evaluated based on the stage of your ingrown nail and whether or not you have tried any of the above remedies at home. There are several options when treating an ingrown toenail based on the severity and condition of the nail. Extra tissue may be removed, or your nail may be filed down to try and alter the shape of your nail for future growth. Surgery may be required, but this must be evaluated by your doctor based on pain level, cause, circumstances, and medical history.

It is important to monitor foot health at all times, especially potential infected areas and the causes surrounding nail complications. This is significantly important to those with diabetes and other foot related health concerns. Questions? Don’t hesitate to call Dr. Mark Spier with any questions or concerns, or to schedule an appointment. Don’t let your ingrown nail slow you down this spring!

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