Ingrown Toenail

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An ingrown toenail is a toenail that cuts into the skin of the toe.

An ingrown toenail is a common condition in which the corners or sides of the toenail cut into the skin of the toe. This usually happens to the big toe, and can affect people of all ages. An ingrown toenail is a serious condition for people with impaired blood circulation or diabetes.

What Happens When People Have Ingrown Toenails?

Ingrown toenails tend to run in families, although they also may be caused by:

* wearing shoes that are too tight or that do not fit properly
* trimming toenails improperly or too closely
* repeated trauma to the toenail from everyday activities such as work and sports.

Pain and swelling are the first signs of an ingrown toenail. The area around the ingrown toenail also can become infected. A doctor will diagnose an ingrown toenail through a physical examination.


Treatment depends upon the type and amount of pain present. Ingrown toenails that are not infected may be treated by putting a cotton pad coated with a medicine called collodion (ko-LO-de-on) under the nail’s edge. This relieves the pain and allows the nail to grow properly. Ingrown toenails that are infected may be treated with antibiotics or warm soaks. Sometimes, part of the toenail must be removed. An ingrown toenail is a serious condition for people with impaired blood circulation or diabetes. People with these conditions should have their feet cared for by medical doctors or by podiatrists, doctors who specialize in the care of the feet.


Ingrown toenails can be prevented by wearing shoes that fit properly and by trimming toenails properly. This means cutting nails straight across with a nail clipper, not rounding off the corners, and filing to smooth the nails.


American Podiatric Medical Association, 9312 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD 20814-1698. This association’s website has consumer information about footcare.
Telephone 301-571-9200

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