Questions and Answers about Ingrown Toenails

Q: What’s an ingrown toenail and who gets them?

A: Ingrown toenails are a common complaint among the Montgomery County patients we see here at Montgomery Foot Care Specialists. An ingrown toenail curves downward into the sides of the nail bed. If left to its own devices, the nail will continue to grow into the skin, causing great pain and possibly an infection. People of all ages can get an ingrown toenail, especially those who:

  • cut their toenails at an angle rather than straight across
  • cut their toenails too short
  • wear shoes with a narrow toe box that continually press their toes together
  • have a family history of ingrown toenails and/or nails that naturally grow in a curved manner
  • have experienced an injury to their nail.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: An ingrown toenail begins with moderate redness, swelling, and pain around the nail. As it progresses and the toenail continues burrowing into the skin of your nail bed, the pain will get worse. Eventually, tissue can grow over the nail, worsening the inflammation and causing an infection. You may see a discharge of pus.

Q: Is it safe to treat an ingrown toenail at home?

A: If you have diabetes, the answer is an emphatic “no.” You should report any pain or irritation around your toenail to podiatrists Dr. Heidi M. Christie and Dr. Chanda L. Day-Houts immediately. Non-diabetics may reduce inflammation by taking over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen. You can also soak your toe in warm water and gently massage the nail bed. However, if you see signs of an infection, make an appointment with us for an examination and antibiotics or surgery to remove the ingrown nail.

Q: How can you prevent ingrown toenails?

A: Always cut your toenails straight across – and tell your pedicurist to do the same. Take care not to trim your nails too short, and limit your time in tight or narrow shoes.

If an ingrown toenail becomes extremely painful, doesn’t improve with home care, or shows signs of an infection, call us in Montgomery, Alabama at (334) 396-3668 for expert care and treatment. You may also make an appointment online.