An ingrown toenail (onychocryptosis) is a toenail that has grown into the skin instead of over it, and may cause pain along with an infection.
While an ingrown toenail may be treatable through consistent soakings, if it becomes infected you may need antibiotics and the nail may need to be partially or fully removed.
If you have an ingrown toenail, it may be hard, swollen and tender. Later, it may get red and infected, and feel very sore. You may see pus drain from it. If left untreated for too long, your skin may even start to grow over the ingrown toenail.
To treat an infected ingrown toenail, soak your foot in warm, soapy water several times a day. You may need to gently lift the edge of the ingrown toenail from its position and insert some cotton or waxed dental floss between the nail and your skin. Change this packing every day. If your infection is severe, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Learn how to trim your toenails properly. Wear clean socks and open-toed shoes, such as sandals while recovering.
If you are in a lot of pain and/or the infection keeps coming back, your doctor may remove part of your ingrown toenail (partial nail plate excision). Your toe is injected with an anesthetic and your doctor uses scissors to cut away the ingrown part of the toenail, taking care not to disturb the nail bed. An exposed nail bed may be very painful. Removing your whole ingrown toenail (complete nail plate excision) increases the likelihood your toenail will come back deformed. It may take six to nine months for your nail to regrow.
Ingrown toenails often recur. If you have a chronic problem with an ingrown toenail, your doctor may recommend another surgical procedure in which the toenail’s formative part is permanently removed.