Ingrown Toenails

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An ingrown toenail digs into the skin next to the side of the nail. The most common site is the big toe. Other toes and even fingernails can be affected.

Signs & Symptoms

Corns & Calluses

Illustration of an ingrown toenail.

•  Redness.

•  Tenderness.

•  Discomfort or pain.


•  Jamming your toes.

•  Wearing shoes or socks that fit too tight.

•  Clipping toenails too short. The corners can penetrate the skin as the nail grows out.

•  Having wider-than-average toenails.


American Academy of Dermatology

866.503.SKIN (503.7546)


Self-care usually treats ingrown toenails. If this fails to work, a doctor or podiatrist may have to remove a portion of the nail.

Questions to Ask

Self-Care / Prevention

Illustration on cutting toenails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails.

•  Cut nails straight across. Don’t cut the nails shorter at the sides than in the middle. {Note: If you have diabetes or circulation problems, follow your doctor’s advice about clipping your toenails.}

•  File the nails if they’re sharp after clipping them.

•  Wear shoes and socks that fit well.

To Treat an Ingrown Toenail

•  Soak your foot in warm, soapy water for 5 to 10 minutes, 1 to 3 times a day.

•  Gently lift the nail away from the reddened skin at the outer corners with the tip of a nail file.

•  Soak a small piece of cotton in an antiseptic, such as Betadine. Place it just under the outer corners of the toenails, if you can.

•  Repeat the previous 3 steps, daily, until the nail begins to grow correctly and pressure is relieved. Wear roomy shoes during this time.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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