ZocdocAnswersHow do you treat an ingrown toenail?

Question

How do you treat an ingrown toenail?

I clipped the toenail on my big toe on the left side too short and now I have an ingrown toenail. How do I treat it? Is there a way to make it go away quickly?

Answer

Ingrown toenails can be very painful! As you have pointed out, they usually happen when the toenails are clipped too short (most often on the big toes) and then the nail grows into the soft tissue of the toe itself. There are several different ways to treat ingrown toenails, some of which can be done at home and others of which require additional intervention. The best thing to do initially is see your physician to assess whether there is evidence of infection where the nail is growing into the soft part of the toe. Your doctor may also want to refer you to a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon specializing in the foot/ankle. However, to address the toenail problem, it is possible to use cotton underneath the nail to help lift it away from the skin. This is clearly not enough if you have developed a small pocket of infection, however. In cases involving a more significantly ingrown nail, it may be necessary to have part of your toenail removed. You may also need topical antibiotic cream in this case. Your doctor may also want you to soak your foot regularly. Once an ingrown toenail is corrected, it is also important to take measures to prevent another one from developing. This includes trimming your toenails to a moderate length (not too short!); trimming them straight across; and wearing appropriate shoes. Again, please discuss with your foot doctor!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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