Ingrown Toenails

Treatment and Information


An ingrown toenail is a relatively common condition. Many people will suffer from one at least once in their lifetime, and many of these cases are relatively mild.

There are certain situations, however, when an ingrown toenail should absolutely be seen by a professional – and we will also never turn down any patient who comes to us with questions or concerns about any case whatsoever. Never hesitate to reach out to us!


An ingrown toenail happens when the edge or corner of a toenail grows into the surrounding skin, eventually causing aggravation. Early symptoms of an ingrown toenail can include:

  • Tenderness and pain along the ingrown edge.
  • Redness around the nail.
  • Swelling.
  • Occasional accumulation of liquid around the nail.

While, once again, we are more than happy to see you or a loved one for any ingrown toenail, there are certain symptoms which indicate a more serious problem that deserves immediate professional treatment. You should definitely call us if:

  • Your ingrown toenail is very painful or sensitive to touch.
  • You keep getting ingrown toenails over and over again no matter what steps you take to stop them.
  • You notice signs of potential infection, such as pus, severe pain, or red streaks radiating from the site of the injury (fever can also be a symptom).
  • You have diabetes or poor circulation. These factors can make even minor foot injuries much more difficult and riskier to handle on your own.

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One or more factors can contribute to someone having an ingrown toenail, including:

  • Improper nail trimming
    When nails are cut too short or too curved in the corners, the skin next to the nail is more likely to fold over it.
  • Poorly fitting footwear.
    Shoes and socks that are too tight and constricting can push on a nail and cause it to dig into the surrounding skin.
  • Nail trauma.
    Sometimes, injuries or repetitive impacts to a toenail (such as from repeatedly striking the inside of a shoe while running) can cause the nail to grow into the skin.
  • Inherited ingrown toenails.
    Some people are simply born with nails that tend to grow curved and inward. Ingrown toenails tend to happen more frequently for these individuals.

While some of the above causes can be fixed via simple changes, others may require more advanced treatments.

Treating Ingrown Toenails

When an ingrown toenail is mild, it may be treatable at home. However, please keep in mind the above situations for when professional treatment is highly recommended.

Patients without those conditions may try soaking their foot in room-temperature water (adding Epsom salts, if desired) for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times per day. Afterward, gently rub the side of the nail fold to help reduce inflammation, then apply antibacterial ointment and bandage.

When treating at home, do not attempt to cut a notch in the nail. This has no effect on the growth of the nail, and can cause further injury. Also do not place cotton beneath the nail. This provides an additional place for bacteria to grow and can increase infection risk.

If home care is not working or you need or prefer professional care, the experts at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle are here to help.

We will examine the toe and recommend the best course of treatment to meet your needs. In more conservative cases, this might include lifting the nail and/or the use of pain-relieving anti-inflammatory medications.

In more severe or recurring cases, we may recommend a minor surgical procedure to ease pain and remove the offending nail. This procedure is performed right in our office with local anesthesia, and the toe typically feels a lot better than it did once the numbness is gone!

A surgical procedure might involve removing a small section or all of the nail. In cases of repeated ingrown toenails, we might also treat the underlying nail bed so that new nail never grows back.

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Feet shouldn’t hurt, and neither should their treatment. If you are experiencing foot pain or problems, then give us a call. The podiatrists at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle will thoroughly examine your feet and evaluate your symptoms to better understand your condition.