What is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail happens when the side or corner of your toenail grows into the flesh around it. It usually affects the big toe.
What are the symptoms of an ingrown toenail?
The symptoms include pain, redness, and swelling where the nail has grown into the flesh.
Is there a test for an ingrown toenail?
No. Your doctor or nurse should be able to tell if you have it by learning about your symptoms and doing an exam.
Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better?
Yes. Some people feel better if they:
- Place a small piece of a cotton ball or some dental floss underneath the nail to take pressure off the toe.
- Soak the foot in warm, soapy water. Do this for 10 to 20 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day for 1 to 2 weeks. You can also use 1 to 2 teaspoons of Epsom salts (available in drug stores) in the water instead of soap.
Should I see a doctor or nurse?
See your doctor or nurse if redness and swelling become worse and there is pus.
How is an ingrown toenail treated?
If the treatments you have tried on your own don’t help, your doctor might cut away part of your toenail. He or she will first inject a medicine to numb your toe. Afterwards, you will need to:
- Clean the area 2 to 3 times per day. Make a mixture of equal parts of water and hydrogen peroxide and dab it on your toe with a cotton swab.
- Put antibiotic ointment on your toe. Examples include bacitracin and mupirocin (brand name: Bactroban).
Can an ingrown toenail be prevented?
You can reduce your chances of getting an ingrown toenail by:
- Wearing shoes that are not too tight around your toes
- Cutting your toenails straight across and not too short