Prevent Ingrown Toenails

Edited by Witz Taluban, Graeme, Ian Gabriel T. Tolledo, Maria Sharon Ubando and 5 others

Ingrown toenails [1] are a common, painful condition that occurs when the toenail grows into the skin. The fist signs of an ingrown toenail include pain, swelling, and redness, and it may even lead to an infection. Ingrown toenails typically occur on the big toe, and a common cause of this condition is improper toenail cutting, tight footwear, or the shape of your nail bed. Sometimes they have no specific cause at all. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do at home to get rid of an ingrown toenail and prevent it from coming back.

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How to Get Rid of an Ingrown Toenail

  1. 1
    Treat your toe to an Epsom salt bath
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    This can help reduce the swelling and pain associated with ingrown toenails, and it can soften the nail for easier cutting. Fill a basin or tub with warm water, and add 1/2 cup of Epsom salts. Soak your feet in the water for 20-30 minutes. Rinse your feet and dry them with a towel.
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  2. 2
    Guide the ingrown toenail away from your skin
    If the ingrown toenail isn't too severe, you may be able to direct it away from your skin while it grows out. Take a small piece of a clean cotton pad, and dampen it with an antiseptic. Place it under the corner of the ingrown toenail to lift it up and away from the skin. Change the cotton at least once a day. Once the toenail grows out past your toe, you can trim it.
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  3. 3
    Cut your toenails the correct way
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    Make sure your toenail clippers are clean, and never share them with anyone. You should always cut your toenails straight across. Never cut them at an angle, a curve, or a slant, as these shapes can direct the nail into your skin when it grows back. Make sure not to cut them too short, either. The nail length should reach the tip of your toe.
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  4. 4
    Apply a topical antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin to the affected area twice a day
    This can help prevent infection and speed the healing process. You may want to look for an antibiotic ointment that includes an anesthetic to help with pain. You can bandage the toe to keep it protected.
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  5. 5
    Wear comfortable shoes that aren't too tight on your toes
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    If you find that your shoes are compressing your toes, choose a wider width or different style. Stay away from high heels, as these can put extra pressure on the toes, and they can cause or worsen ingrown toenails. Open-toed sandals are a great option for people with ingrown toenails if they're suitable for the occasion and the weather permits.
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  6. 6
    Don't wear shoes at home
    You need to give your toe a rest. Don't wear slippers, either. It's best just to wear nothing on your feet for as long as you can until the ingrown toenail is gone.
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  7. 7
    Be extra careful with your feet.
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    Try hard not to stub your toe or drop anything on your feet
    If you plan to do any heavy-duty work, wear shoes with reinforced toes. Avoid any activities that require repeated contact with the toes, such as kicking a ball. Injury or repeated pressure on the nail bed can cause an ingrown toenail.
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  8. 8
    Take over-the-counter medication for pain
    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen can help with the pain and swelling associated with ingrown toenails. Follow the dosage instructions on the label. People under the age of 20 should not take aspirin.
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  9. 9
    Maintain good foot hygiene
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    Prevention is worth much more than cure. Pay special attention to your feet. Wash your feet every day, and make sure to keep them dry.
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Tips and Warnings

  • People with diabetes should examine their feet for conditions such as ingrown toenails every single day. Those with diabetes and other disorders that reduce circulation to the feet are especially susceptible to conditions such as ingrown toenails and infections. Pain may also be delayed due to neuropathy, which means that the condition can go unnoticed for a period of time. If you have diabetes and a persistent ingrown toenail, see a doctor for treatment.
  • If you have diabetes or another condition that affects the feeling in your toes, consider visiting a foot care clinic instead of cutting your toenails yourself. If you have less feeling in your toes, you could possibly cut yourself and not realize it. Your doctor may be able to provide information about foot care clinics in your area.
  • If your ingrown toenail persists despite your best efforts, or if it shows signs of infection such as spreading redness, increasing pain, or discharge, see a doctor for treatment. They can treat the infection with antibiotics, and they can remove the ingrown portion of the toenail under local anesthetic.
  • Never try to dig out an ingrown toenail on your own. Wait for it to grow out on its own before trimming your toenails. This can result in infection or injury to your toe. If you can't wait, or if it's just too painful, see a doctor for treatment.


  1. WebMD. 2014. Retrieved August 7, 2015 [1]

Questions and Answers

Is there a special way to cut your nails if you are diabetic?

I have heard it is dangerous for diabetics to cut themselves while having their nails trimmed.. I have tried: I have gotten my nails trimmed at a salon but I got an infection in my toe.. I think it was caused by: Bacteria in the spa basin water.

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There could have been a bacteria issue in the water or with the tools. In the future, seek a podiatrist to cut your toenails if you feel that you can't do it at home. Diabetics should not cut their nails unless they have been softened first by soaking in warm water. Cut straight across and then use a file to shape the toenail and trim the corners. Epsom salt foot soaks can be beneficial to diabetic feet and help prevent infection. You should also consider tabbing some tea tree oil on your nails daily if you are prone to infection.

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Categories : Health & Wellness | Physical Health

Recent edits by: kayla00, Eng, Melissa Rae

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