How to Treat an Ingrown Toenail at Home

Are you suffering from painful, infected ingrown toenails? You don’t have to spend time and money on medical treatment – this guide will show you how to treat an ingrown toenail at home. Take control of your health and relieve the discomfort with simple yet effective solutions.

Quick facts: Treating A Ingrown Toenail At Home

  • ✅ Soaking the affected foot in warm, soapy water for 15-20 minutes can reduce inflammation and help loosen the corner of the ingrown toenail. (American Academy of Dermatology)
  • ✅ Applying a cotton ball soaked in apple cider vinegar directly to the toe can help reduce the pain and inflammation. (Mayo Clinic)
  • ✅ Placing a small piece of dental floss or cotton thread between the ingrown nail and the skin can help stop it from growing further. (Harvard Health Publishing)
  • ✅ Wearing shoes with a wider toe box can reduce the pressure on the affected area and help prevent an ingrown toenail from occurring. (American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons)
  • ✅ If the ingrown toenail is particularly painful or infected, antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce the risk of further complications. (Johns Hopkins Medicine)

What is an Ingrown Toenail?

An ingrown toenail occurs when the corner or side of the toenail grows into the skin, resulting in pain and inflammation of the toe. It can be caused by poorly fitting shoes, trimming the toenail too short, injury to the toe, or incorrect nail cutting technique.

It’s important to be aware of the potential causes of an ingrown toenail, in order to take steps to prevent it from happening or to treat it properly if it does occur.


An ingrown toenail is a condition in which the corner or side of a toenail grows into the skin of the toe. Symptoms of an ingrown toenail include pain, redness, and swelling around the nail. Other signs may include drainage or pus with a foul odor coming from the area. If the infection is severe, there may be fever and chills as well. In some cases, a broken toe can also occur. In such cases, it is important to treat broken toe as soon as possible.

The most common symptom of an ingrown toenail is pain. Pain can range from mild to severe and can become worse with activity. Pressure on the toe when wearing shoes may also aggravate symptoms. If left untreated, an infection can develop due to bacteria growing in the wound created by an ingrown nail. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention for any persistent symptoms of an ingrown toenail.


An ingrown toenail is a condition where the edges of the nails start growing inward, penetrating and irritating the skin. Ingrown toenails can be extremely painful and often require medical intervention.

Some of the most common causes of ingrown toenails include

  • toenail trauma (resulting from ill-fitting shoes or an injury),
  • cutting the nails too short,
  • poor posture or foot biomechanics,
  • and fungal infection.

Other risk factors can include

  • diabetes,
  • genetics,
  • excessive sweating,
  • or recurring wet feet from swimming or exercise.

Depending on the severity of an ingrown toenail, it can be treated at home with

  • soaking in warm water and Epsom salt for 10-15 minutes several times a day
  • and/or applying an antibiotic ointment as needed.

More severe cases may require minor surgery by a doctor or podiatrist to remove all or part of the nail plate. Regardless of treatment option, it is important that proper hygiene practices are followed in order to prevent reoccurrence.

How to Treat an Ingrown Toenail at Home

Treating an ingrown toenail at home can be a safe and effective way to relieve the discomfort associated with it. It can also help to prevent further infection and promote healing. This article will provide you with a guide on how to treat an ingrown toenail at home:

Soak your foot

Soaking your foot is one of the most effective treatments for an ingrown toenail. Soaking your foot in warm, slightly soapy water helps reduce swelling and soften the skin around the affected toenail. You can do this up to three times a day for 10–15 minutes each time.

After soaking, you may be able to gently push the edge of the nail away so that it doesn’t continue to dig into your skin. You should never try to cut the nail yourself as this can cause more damage and increase risk of infection. If you are unable to remove the nail with regular soaks, consult a doctor or podiatrist right away.

Trim the toenail

Trimming the toenail is one of the most common and most effective ways to treat an ingrown toenail at home. When trimming the toenail, it is important to use sterile instruments and take proper precautions to avoid further injury or infection.

Begin by soaking the foot in warm water for 15-20 minutes, as this will help soften the skin and make it easier to work with. Then use a sterilized nail clipper or scissors and slightly round off any sharp corners of the nail before cutting straight across. It is essential that any sharp edges be softened before continuing, as this can still cause discomfort and piercing of the skin despite best efforts; if possible, have someone else trim your nails for you – having a professional trim your nails can help ensure they are done correctly.

Wear loose-fitting shoes

Wearing loose-fitting shoes is one of the most effective ways to treat an ingrown toenail at home. Shoes that are too tight provide too much pressure on the toes, which can cause the nail to grow into the skin. Thus, avoiding tight shoes is essential in treating an ingrown toenail.

Additionally, wearing roomy sandals and open-toed shoes can help reduce friction and provide your toes with enough space for them to move freely. Also, it’s important to keep your feet dry, so consider wearing breathable shoes such as moccasins or boat shoes. Lastly, try not to wear socks that are too snug as this can further contribute to an ingrown nail if your feet sweat a lot.

Apply a warm compress

Applying a warm compress to an ingrown toenail is one of the most effective methods for treating it at home. This helps to reduce pain and swelling associated with the condition.

To begin, soak a clean washcloth in warm water, wring out any excess water and apply directly to the affected area for 10-15 minutes at a time. If needed, this process can be repeated multiple times each day until signs of improvement have been seen.

A warm compress can also help soften hardened skin around the nail so it may be more easily moved or adjusted back into its normal position. It’s important to take extra care when applying a hot compress as applying too much heat may cause further damage to the toe or nail bed.

Take pain relievers

Taking over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help alleviate the discomfort associated with an ingrown toenail. However, as with any medication, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional before taking any medications. Additionally, be sure to follow the instructions on the package and carefully monitor your dosage.

Other treatments that can provide some relief include:

  • Soaking your foot in warm water and applying a cold compress. Soaking your feet can reduce inflammation and help reduce pain.
  • Applying a cold compress to help numb the area so you’re more comfortable and can begin treating the ingrown nail. Apply for 10-15 minutes at a time several times per day for best results.

When to See a Doctor

When dealing with an ingrown toenail, it is important to know when to seek medical attention. Without proper care, an ingrown toenail can become infected which can lead to serious health complications.

Generally, you should see a doctor if the area is swollen or red, if there is pus or discharge, or if the pain is severe.

Let’s look at other instances where seeking medical help is necessary:

When there is severe pain

If you are experiencing severe pain from an ingrown toenail, it may be time to seek medical treatment. Severe pain indicates the bacteria in the infection has spread and is likely the result of neglecting proper foot care. At this point, over-the-counter ointments may no longer be effective in treating the infection and should be avoided as they may further complicate things.

A doctor can provide treatments such as:

  • Antibiotics
  • Minor surgery to remove part of the nail if needed.

It is important that you do not try to cut or remove your own nail at home as this can cause further injury. A doctor will also check for any other conditions that could have caused your ingrown toenail—such as misalignments of the foot—and provide appropriate treatment for those conditions.

When there is excessive swelling

If the ingrown toenail has caused a lot of swelling and redness, it may be time to go see a doctor. Swelling from an ingrown toenail can be painful and make it difficult for you to walk. Additionally, if the area around your nail becomes too swollen and tight, surgery may be necessary in order to properly treat the ingrown nail.

While treatment options like soaking your foot in warm water can help reduce inflammation, excessive swelling warrants further intervention by a medical professional. Visiting a podiatrist can help prevent further complications of an ingrown nail, such as infection or permanent damage to the toe.

When there is redness and warmth

When you notice redness and warmth in your toe, this could be a sign of an ingrown toenail. If your redness is accompanied by swelling, pain, or any other sign of infection, you should seek medical attention immediately. Redness and warmth are a sign of inflammation and the possibility of infection.

The only way to properly diagnose an ingrown toenail is by visiting a doctor who can determine the cause and provide the necessary treatment.

Your doctor will usually start with a physical examination and may take X-rays if needed. Depending on your condition, they may prescribe:

  • Antibiotics or steroids to reduce inflammation
  • Laser therapy to remove tissue from around the nail plate so it doesn’t grow into the skin again
  • Minor surgery on the nail bed if necessary
  • Other options like applying oxygen therapy

It’s important that you treat an ingrown toenail only after consulting with your doctor since self-diagnosis can make things worse in some cases.

When there is pus or discharge

If an ingrown toenail is causing you discomfort or pain, it’s important to get it examined by a doctor. Certain signs and symptoms can indicate that the condition is becoming more serious and needs urgent medical care. One of these symptoms is the presence of pus or discharge coming from the affected toe. This means that an infection has likely developed, which can spread to other parts of your toe and even your body if not treated immediately. In some cases, an ingrown nail can cause tissue death in the affected area, known as gangrene, which requires emergency medical treatment.

If you see any pus or discharge coming from your ingrown nail, it is recommended that you seek medical attention right away.


Preventing an ingrown toenail is better than having to treat one at home. Taking the proper steps to prevent an ingrown toenail will help you stay pain-free and save time and money.

Here are some tips that can help you prevent an ingrown toenail:

  • Wear shoes that fit properly and provide enough room for your toes to move freely.
  • Cut your toenails straight across, not too short, and avoid rounding the edges.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry.
  • Avoid activities that put too much pressure on your feet.
  • Always wear shoes when walking or running outdoors.
  • Keep your feet moisturized.

Wear shoes that fit properly

Properly fitted shoes are an important preventative measure against an ingrown toenail. Shoes that are too tight can cause pressure on the toe and surrounding skin, leading to increased pain and irritation. Wearing shoes of a proper fit is especially important when participating in any kind of physical activity such as running or walking, as well as when wearing any kind of footwear with hard edges or raised elements.

In addition, it is important to make sure that the shoes provide enough width for your toes to move freely and allow for sufficient air flow between your feet and the shoe for proper ventilation. By following these guidelines one can help protect against the formation of an ingrown toenail leading to a much more comfortable and healthy foot environment.

Trim your toenails straight

When treating an ingrown toenail at home, one of the most important steps is to trim your toenails straight across. This will help prevent the nail from piercing the edge of the skin again and causing more pain or infection.

To do this, make sure you have a good pair of sharp scissors or clippers and cut in one smooth motion from either side of the nail. It’s also important to file down any raised edges after you finish trimming so that it doesn’t become jagged and start curving inward once again. When trimming, make sure not to cut too close to the skin as this could cause an even more painful ingrown nail.

Avoid activities that put pressure on your toes

An ingrown toenail occurs when the corner or side of a toenail grows into the skin, causing pressure and pain. It can be caused by ill-fitting shoes, toenail injuries or improper nail trimming.

When treating an ingrown toenail, one of the most important steps is avoiding activities that put pressure on your toes, such as running and jumping. You should also try to keep your feet elevated whenever possible in order to reduce swelling and pressure on the affected area.

Additionally, it’s important to wear properly fitting shoes and socks that offer plenty of cushioning for your toes in order to reduce any discomfort caused by rubbing against neighboring toes.

Finally, if you already have an ingrown toenail, it is best not to attempt any at-home treatments without consulting a doctor first—self-treatment often leads to more pain and complications!


An ingrown toenail is a common condition that occurs when the edge of a nail grows into the skin of your toe. If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can be painful and lead to infection. Fortunately, there are several things you can do at home in order to treat an ingrown toenail.

To start, you should soak the affected foot in warm water with Epsom salt for 20 minutes, several times a day. Additionally, using cotton wool or dental floss wrapped around the nail may help to reduce pain and pressure. You may also need to use scissors or nail clippers to trim away any excess growth on the side of your nail.

If these methods do not provide relief after two days, make an appointment with your doctor for further treatment.

FAQs about: Treating A Ingrown Toenail At Home

Q: How do you treat an ingrown toenail at home?

A: The best way to treat an ingrown toenail at home is to soak your foot in warm water and Epsom salts several times a day. This will help reduce inflammation and pain. You can also place a cotton ball soaked in warm water between your toe and the ingrown nail. This should be done three times a day for 15 minutes each time.

Q: What should I do if my ingrown toenail is infected?

A: If your ingrown toenail is infected, you should seek medical attention right away. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. You should also take care to keep your foot clean and dry to avoid further infection.

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

A: It is not recommended to trim an ingrown toenail at home. This could cause further damage to the toe and lead to further infection. It is best to seek medical attention to have an ingrown toenail properly treated.

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