Ingrown Toenail: Symptoms and Treatment Options

Is your toenail digging in and causing you pain? Check out these symptoms of an ingrown toenail and how you can start treating it.

Published on
June 29, 2022
Close-up of an ingrown toenail

Are you having pain in one of your toes near the nail bed? If so, you may have an ingrown toenail. We all have heard how annoying and painful they can be.

But exactly what is an ingrown toenail, and is there anything you can do to fix it? In this article, we'll discuss the symptoms of an ingrown nail. We'll also look at some ways to prevent and treat it.

What's an Ingrown Toenail?

Ingrown toenails occur when the side or corner of a nail grows into the soft flesh of your toe's nail bed. They may also occur when the skin on the side of the nail grows over the nail edge. They dig into the flesh, causing irritation over time.

Who can get an ingrown nail? 

It is a common condition, so anyone who does not take care of their feet properly is at risk of getting it. Ingrown toenails can be caused by external factors such as:

  • Shoes that are too tight
  • Improper nail trimming 
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Toenail injury

However, adolescents and people with diabetes or other medical conditions that cause poor blood circulation in the feet are at a greater risk of having ingrown toenails.

Symptoms of an Ingrown Nail

Some common symptoms of ingrown nails include:

  • Inflamed skin
  • Tenderness and pain
  • Swelling

You may even get a nail root infection (paronychia). This occurs when a piece of nail cuts into the skin and leaves an opening for harmful bacteria to get into the skin. It most often occurs as severe swelling and pain at the nail root. If left untreated, infections can become severe.

So how can you treat ingrown toenails?

Ingrown Toenail Treatment Options

It's important to know how to treat an ingrown toenail so you can avoid harmful complications. Thankfully, there are some effective treatment options for your ingrown nail.

Try at Home Foot Care Remedies

While you don't want to risk infection by pulling out ingrown nails yourself, there are some preventive home remedies you can try to treat them.

Soak your affected foot in warm water 3-4 times a day. This will keep your nail and the surrounding skin soft and hydrated so the nail doesn't dig into the skin too firmly.

You may also make packing at home by gently lifting the nail tip and inserting cotton between your skin and the nail.

If your ingrown nail doesn't get better within two to three days after you start these remedies, you need to visit your podiatrist.

Visit a Foot Specialist

A doctor crossing his arms and holding a stethoscope

If you have a severely painful ingrown nail or an ingrown toenail infection, it may be best to visit your foot specialist for ingrown toenail treatment.

The podiatrist will probably prescribe oral antibiotics to fight the harmful bacteria. 

You may need nail surgery to partially or completely remove the infected nail. The doctor may also have to remove a small portion of the nail bed, some of the surrounding soft tissue, and a portion of the growth center. 

This may sound painful, but you will be numbed and the procedure is straightforward. Nail surgery will eliminate the nail edge from growing inward and cutting into the flesh as your toenail regrows forward.

Whatever your podiatrist recommends, it is best to follow their medical advice.  

Techniques for Ingrown Toenail Prevention

You should do your best to prevent the growth of ingrown toenails so you can spare yourself the pain and hassle of treating them. There are several methods you can use to prevent ingrown toenails from growing.

Trim Toenails Correctly

Close-up of nail clippers on a grey background

One of the best ways to prevent an ingrown toenail is through a good foot care routine. 

Curved toenails may look attractive, but they are not good for your toes and increase your risk of getting an ingrown nail. 

Instead of curving the nails to match the shape of your toe, you want to use a nail clipper to trim them straight across. You can then use an emery board or nail file to gently round the corners. 

You also want to make sure the toenails aren't too long or too short. If they're too long, there's a high risk they will begin to curl in and dig into the skin. If they're too short, pressure from your shoes may cause a nail to start growing into the tissue. 

It's best to trim your toenails so they're even with the tips of your toes. This will keep them from curling or being pressed into the soft tissue of your nail bed.

Avoid Tight Fitting Shoes

Comfy shoes laying down on a beige carpet

Tight-fitting shoes are harmful to your feet in several ways, and one of the effects is ingrown toenails. Tight shoes pinch your toes and place too much pressure on them, causing your nails to grow into soft tissue. 

Make sure you wear comfortable shoes that fit properly. 

Most people have one foot that's bigger than the other, so use your biggest foot as the measuring standard for your shoes. They should fit your heel, ball of your foot, and top of your toes comfortably without too much pressure.

A good rule of thumb is to have a fourth of an inch of space between the top and front of your toes and the shoe. This should be enough for you to fit a finger through.

Open-toed shoes are another great option to eliminate the risk of pressure, pinching, or excessive perspiration. But make sure you wear protective shoes like steel-toed boots or sneakers if you're doing activities that may injure your toes.

Keep Your Toes Looking and Feeling Their Best

Close-up of a woman's red nails

Ingrown toenails can be unsightly and painful. Proper foot health and a good foot care routine are the best preventers of ingrown toenails. 

So make sure you trim your toenails properly, wear comfortable shoes, use safe home remedies, and visit a foot specialist if you notice an ingrown nail. Your feet will look and feel their best.

Using tools and materials that keep the nails and skin healthy is another important part of foot care. Here at The Toe Bro, we offer products specially designed to prevent and treat symptoms of common foot conditions. Take a look around our website to enhance your foot care routine today. You'll enjoy healthy, good-looking feet for years to come.

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Related blog post

7 Foot Care Tips for Better Foot Health

Your feet work hard. They take several thousand steps a day to get you from point A to point B — all while bearing the weight of your body. You stand on them a long time and put them into shoes that may not be the best fit. Unfortunately, these conditions can eventually cause a range of foot problems. So how can you take care of your feet and avoid chronic foot issues? This article will cover seven excellent foot care tips to keep your feet healthy.

Foot Care Tips To Keep Your Feet Healthy

It's important to know how to take care of your feet to keep them healthy for years to come. You can implement these seven tips to build a good foot care routine and avoid foot issues.

1. Avoid Wearing Tight Shoes

Shoe fit is very important to your foot health. 

Tight shoes restrict your blood flow, causing poor circulation that damages your feet in the long run. They may also cause foot pain that could become chronic. 

Over time, you may notice calluses, blisters, ingrown toenails, and corns on your feet. They may even deform your feet with conditions like hammertoes and bunions.

2. Wear Shoes With Arch Support

Once you've got comfortable shoes that fit, you need to make sure your arch is adequately supported. Your arch does it all — it supports your body weight, propels you forward when you move, and absorbs shock anytime your foot hits the ground. Over time, your arch can become strained or weakened from the stress.

Arch supports keep your arch in good condition because they:

  • Distribute pressure evenly
  • Support the lower body
  • Help with alignment
  • Prevent arch trauma
  • Provide balance and stability
  • Prevent and lessen foot pain

So really, everyone can benefit from arch supports. Look for shoe brands that are known for providing good arch support. You may benefit from a custom shoe insert if you have shoes that fit well but don't provide enough arch support.

Also, try to avoid wearing flats and flip-flops every day. Although they are comfortable, they don't support your arch enough and may lead to a foot injury down the line.

3. Keep Your Feet Clean and Mostly Dry

Feet often sweat throughout the day, providing a perfect breeding ground for harmful fungi. So pay special attention to your feet when you shower or bathe. Good foot hygiene goes a long way toward eliminating foot odor. 

Be careful! You don't want to soak your feet in hot water or leave them in the water for too long. This may cause dry skin, which leads to skin irritation and flaking. 

After you clean your feet thoroughly, be sure to dry them. Don't be shy — get in between your toes to prevent fungal infections like athlete's foot.

4. Inspect Regularly for Foot Ailments

Practicing a good foot care routine allows you to catch any potential issues before they arise. Inspect your feet for any changes daily, and look out for any sores, cuts, swelling, or infected toenails.

Use antiseptic and healing creams if you notice any cuts, and go to the podiatrist immediately if you have unexpected swelling or infected toenails. 

After all, prevention is always the best cure.

5. Use Nail Clippers Correctly

We may tend to use nail clippers to clip and shape our toenails. But this can cause damage to the tender skin of your nail bed. 

It's important to use nail clippers correctly. Make sure they're stainless steel, so the blades stay sharp for longer. A dull blade is more dangerous than a sharp one. 

Use the nail clippers only to trim the toenail straight across. You then want to use a nail file or emery board to gently smooth and round the corners. 

You can also use the nail file or emery board to push your cuticles back. However, you want to avoid cutting them, so they don't split or bleed.

6. Use Moisturizing Cream at Night

Chronic dry skin can cause skin irritation and flakiness. To avoid this, use moisturizing cream every night right after you dry your feet off. 

You can use creams, lotions, or even petroleum jelly. These are all nourishing emollients that sink into the skin and create a barrier to protect it. Your feet will be noticeably softer and well-hydrated. 

You can even give your feet a gentle massage as you apply your moisturizer, which can help stretch the tendons and contribute to your foot's muscular health. 

Afterward, you can put on socks or wrap your feet in plastic wrap for at least an hour for better lotion absorption, especially if you have dry skin.

But don't put any moisturizer between your toes to prevent a fungal or bacterial infection. Remember, you want to keep that area dry.

7. Don't Perform DIY Surgery on Ingrown Nails

We all know that ingrown toenails are annoying and even downright painful, and it's tempting to do a little DIY surgery to get rid of them. However, this is dangerous. 

Many people dig out ingrown nails with nail clippers or use floss to "splint" the toenail. These home remedies create a wide opening for harmful bacteria to get into the skin and develop into a nasty infection.

Go see your podiatrist instead. They are experts in all things feet and will safely get rid of your ingrown toenail in sanitary conditions. They can also prevent ingrown nails from regrowing and causing issues in the future.

Schedule Periodic Foot Exams and Invest in Advanced Foot Products

It's important to practice proper foot care. This includes wearing comfortable shoes, practicing good foot hygiene, and using the proper tools and creams.

You also want to visit your podiatrist for periodic foot exams to prevent the development of foot problems. They can also improve your foot health by performing procedures like ingrown toenail removal. These steps will ensure that your feet stay healthy and happy for many years.

Make sure you use products made for your feet. Here at The Toe Bro, we know how important it is for you to take care of your feet. That's why we provide high-quality advanced foot products to tackle and prevent a host of foot problems afflicting people today. Feel free to visit our website and add products to your routine today. You won't regret investing in your foot health.

The Signs of a Foot Corn and What To Do About It

What comes to mind when you hear the word corn? You may think of that delicious golden vegetable that tastes amazing on the grill, or maybe a joke that's not too funny. But there is another kind of corn that can affect your foot health: a foot corn.

What is a foot corn, and what can you do if you've got one? This article will discuss the signs of a foot corn and how you can treat it.

Foot Corn Common Symptoms

A foot corn is a type of callus made from dead skin that develops when the foot experiences excessive pressure or friction. Layers of skin build and harden in response as a protective measure. 

Foot corns can develop between your toes, below your toenail bed, and on the sides or bottoms of your feet. They often appear as small, hard, raised knobs with thin skin over the top. The skin may appear white or become yellow and flaky if left unattended for too long.

There are several types of corns:

  • Seed corns: Small corns that form on the bottom of the foot.
  • Soft corns: Corns that appear between the toes. They are a whitish or gray color and have a semi-soft, rubbery texture. 
  • Hard corns: Small areas of hard skin underneath larger areas of thickened skin. These form on the tops of the toes, typically right above bone joints.

Common symptoms include skin irritation, discomfort/pain, blisters, and redness. If left untreated, they can become infected, affect your ability to walk, and require surgery.

So how can you prevent the development of corns? Several health tips will help you:

  • Avoid ill-fitting or tight shoes, and wear comfortable shoes with a soft cushion. 
  • Wear thick socks when breaking in new shoes.
  • Cover the sides of your feet and the tops of your toes with breathable bandages when engaging in physical activity.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed to the edge of your toe.

But what can you do if you already have foot corns? Let's look at four options for foot corn removal.

Treatment for Corns

There's no reason to despair if you have corns on your feet. There are several foot health tips that you can follow to treat corns and enjoy healthy skin again:

Soak Hardened Skin in Warm Water

Corns can be treated at home if they are adequately softened and prepped.

Try soaking your feet every day. Fill a basin with hot soapy water and add a cup of apple cider vinegar. Ensuring that the patch of skin with the corn is fully immersed, soak your feet in the water for at least 15 minutes.

This soaking process will soften your corns, preparing them to be filed away or readied for the use of castor oil and corn pads.

File with a Foot File

It may be possible for you to remove foot corns with a foot file. A foot file is a pedicure tool with a pumice surface designed to grate dead skin off your feet. Once the dead skin is gone, fresh, healthy, and smooth skin is exposed.

There are several steps you can follow daily to remove layers of hard, dead skin:

  1. Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt. 
  1. Use a clean towel to pat your feet dry.
  1. Moisturize your feet with lotion or cocoa butter.
  1. Gently rub the corn with the foot file after it's soft and does not hurt. Use an emery board if the corn is in between the toes.
  1. Repeat these steps every day until the corn disappears.

This process may take several weeks, but it is a gentle way to remove corns physically.

Apply Castor Oil and Corn Pads

Castor oil and corn pads are a great option if you don't want to file away your foot corn. 

Castor oil is a thick, vegetable-based oil that is an excellent emollient for the skin. Corn pads are small pads specially designed to cover the affected area and help relieve pressure so it can heal. Both items are over-the-counter products that can be purchased online or at your local pharmacy. 

This method also includes several steps:

  1. Soak your feet in warm water.
  1. Use a clean towel to pat your feet dry.
  1. Apply castor oil to your corn.
  1. Place the corn pad on the corn.

Your socks and shoes mustn't be too tight after you apply the corn pad. You also want to pick spare socks since castor oil can stain the fabric. This method may take ten days to several weeks, but the foot corn should peel away.

Meet With a Foot Specialist

Allowing corns to remain on your feet for too long can lead to painful corns and foot complications. So if your home treatments don't work after several weeks, you should visit your doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a podiatrist — a doctor that specializes in foot conditions.

Your foot specialist may use specialized tools to shave, scrape, or cut away the hardened skin layers. Depending on the size of the corn, this foot corn removal process may take a few appointments before the corn completely disappears. They may also opt for laser treatment instead. 

Your podiatrist may prescribe topical medications to help soften the corns and slough away dead skin. Topical medications may include pads or a solution with a high concentration of salicylic acid, urea, or silver nitrate. Another option to use is hydrocolloid dressings.

Stop The Formation of Corns and Keep Your Foot Pain at Bay

Foot corns can be painful and embarrassing, but there are ways to treat them. If you notice a foot corn, you can soak it in warm soapy water, file it with a foot file, use castor oil and corn pads, or meet with a podiatrist if it is too severe for home treatment. These steps will help you treat existing foot corns and prevent new ones from developing.

As you can see, a good foot care routine is essential to the health of your feet. The Toe Bro provides high-quality advanced foot care products to prevent and treat symptoms of foot problems like foot corns and athlete's foot. Visit our website today to begin your journey to healthy feet. Your feet will thank you.

Help! — I Think There’s Something Stuck in My Foot

Feet are, on a day-to-day basis, exposed to foreign bodies such as splinters or pieces of glass. While everyone has their way of removing them, not taking the right precautions can end up causing infection and unnecessary pain. That's why we, here at The Toe Bro, have decided to put together this little guide so you know what to do if you get something stuck in your foot. Here's what you need to know.

A woman sitting down on a wooden floor

The Signs That Something Really Is Stuck in Your Foot

We've all been there — you've stepped on something but can't determine whether it's still in your skin. Objects like splinters and small glass shards can remain in your body even if you don't realize it. However, there are a few tell-tale signs that something is trapped in your foot.

The most common symptom of a stuck foreign object in your foot is, logically, pain. Small objects usually cause a pinprick sensation, while larger, more dangerous bodies such as nails generate severe pain. Sometimes, smaller objects only cause discomfort when applying pressure to them, so you may only feel them when walking around.

Another common way to tell that something is stuck in your foot is simply by trusting your gut. One can usually feel when something is stuck in their skin, even if it doesn't necessarily lead to pain. Children are experts at this — if your child is telling you that they feel something is in their skin, check for splinters.

Common Types of Foreign Bodies That Break Skin Surface

Studies have shown that over 40% of all foreign-object injuries happen on the feet, as they are exposed to several skin-piercing objects on a day-to-day basis. Needles, nails, and small plastic pieces are typical sharp objects that are often found on the floor. Yet, there are two types of foreign bodies that are particularly common.

Wood Splinter

Wood splinters, while usually small, can be a concerning cause of inflammation and infection due to their organic nature. Larger splinters may prove to be an even harder challenge, as they aren’t as easy to remove. Also, keep in mind that thorns and spines of plants such as cacti should be treated the same way as wood splinters.

Glass Shards

Surprisingly, stuck glass shards are particularly easy to detect on your own. For some reason, the sensation of having a foreign object is usually present with glass splinters, making them easy to diagnose and locate. Yet, due to its sharp and fragile nature, it might be best to get professional help to remove a shard of glass from your foot.

A glass shard on a black background

Treatment Options for a Foreign Object Obstruction

There are many ways to treat a foreign object stuck in your foot. Depending on its size and which material it is, you need to determine whether it warrants a visit to the doctor. Still, most small splinters can be treated at home without any problems.

For example, a minor sliver that doesn't cause pain and doesn't go deep inside the skin can most of the time be left in. Eventually, they’ll leave the body along with the normal shedding of the skin. It's also normal for them to cause a small pimple, which will force the foreign object out of the skin.

On the other hand, tiny slivers that do cause pain and are a bit bigger should be removed as soon as possible. Yet, one might simply take them out with a piece of tape by touching the spot lightly with it, sticking the splinter to the tape, and pulling it out. Some people choose instead to use wax hair remover.

However, if you can’t take it out with tape, or you find that the splinter is bigger than you thought, it's time to look for more serious removal methods.

At-Home Removal With Clean Tweezers and Alcohol

Normal splinters usually warrant using a pair of tweezers, which allow for precise and effective extraction of the foreign body in your foot. This is ideal for wood splinters, thorns, and other relatively safe materials — but keep in mind that it might be dangerous to do with a glass splinter stuck in your foot.

To perform a safe removal with tweezers it's important to clean the skin with rubbing alcohol. This will help disinfect the zone, which may also be done with water and soap. If you want, before disinfecting, you can soak your foot in warm water to relax the area — but keep in mind that if the foreign object is made of wood, this will cause it to swell.

Once the area is ready, grasp the end of the object with the tweezers and pull it out in the same direction it went in. It's crucial to try to pull it out on the first grab to avoid breaking the splinter. If it breaks, you can always use a sterile needle to open a small bit of your skin and expose the end of the sliver.

Finally, wash the area with soap and water once again to clean the zone and avoid further infections. Furthermore, you can use an antibiotic ointment to secure proper healing.

Medical Professional Removal for Deeper Wounds or Infection

Larger splinters or foreign objects that have caused infections and deep wounds require the assistance of a medical professional. If you find that foreign objects are causing unusual pain, looking infected, or you simply can't get them out, don't hesitate to call a foot specialist.

The removal procedure is usually non-invasive and will be over in a matter of hours. First, they’ll need to apply some local anesthesia so that you don't feel pain during the procedure. Then, they will try to remove it with specialized orthopedic equipment such as a splinter forceps.

However, it might warrant a small incision around the foreign object if they can't get it out. After the splinter has been taken out, the doctor will sew it back together and send you home without further complications.

Close up of foot laying down on a rock

Prioritize Foot Care With Quality Products

If you ever find yourself with something stuck in your foot, make sure you treat it with proper care using the right removal tools. Keeping your foot healthy should be possible with quality products. Here at The Toe Bro, you'll find a premium selection of tools and products you need to take care of your feet and avoid unnecessary risk with splinters.