Ingrown Toenails: Where They Come From and How to Treat Them

Jun 01, 2023
Ingrown Toenails: Where They Come From and How to Treat Them
Are you suffering with a painful ingrown toenail? When ingrown toenails don’t heal with home remedies, they may require surgical intervention. Here’s what you need to know about ingrown toenails and when to see the doctor.

Ingrown toenails are a common experience, and you can usually treat them on your own. But they can sometimes worsen, causing severe pain and impacting your daily routine. When that occurs, intervention by our team may be necessary to prevent further complications.

At Renew Foot & Ankle, LLC, in Grand Rapids and Bigfork, Minnesota, double board-certified podiatrist Dr. Eric Gilbertson, DPM, FACFAS, provides the following on where ingrown toenails come from and how to treat them. 

What causes ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails occur due to several reasons. Improper grooming techniques like clipping the toenail too short is the most common cause of ingrown toenails. Tapering the nail along your toe's curve can encourage the toenail to regrow into the surrounding skin. 

Another common cause of ingrown toenails is wearing shoes that are too small or tight. Throughout the day, the shoe presses the skin over the nail, which can lead to an ingrown toenail developing. 

Other causes include congenital problems like the nail being too big for the toe and trauma from stubbing your toe. 

Symptoms of ingrown toenails

When an ingrown toenail develops, the following symptoms typically accompany it:

  • Swelling
  • Red skin
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Inflamed skin

Left untreated, pus, and serious infection may occur at the site of the ingrown toenail. It is important to come see our team to have it treated if it reaches that stage. 

How ingrown toenails are treated

You can treat most ingrown toenails at home and never require medical intervention. You can use several at-home remedies if you catch your ingrown toenails early. 

You should soak the foot in warm water 3 - 4 times daily and then keep it dry throughout the rest of your day. Our team recommends wearing sandals until the condition clears up, though any footwear with proper space will work. 

You can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to treat the pain and help reduce the swelling. If it does not clear up in several days, you have severe pain, or there is pus present, it is important to see our team. 

For more severe cases of ingrown toenails involving infection, our team treats them with surgery. The doctor performs a small surgery for ingrown toenails that do not heal on their own or have become infected. During this surgery, we will remove part of the nail, nail bed, and surrounding soft tissue to allow for proper growth and healing of the nail. 

If you or a loved one suffers from an ingrown toenail, our Renew Foot & Ankle team can help relieve your pain. Contact us or schedule an appointment online at our Bigfork and Grand Rapids, Minnesota, offices.