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Ingrown Toenail: Do’s And Don’ts

Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD · Aesthetics

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Oct 10, 2022

    Ingrown Toenail: Do’s And Don’ts

    Although it is safe and simple to remove an ingrown toenail, it is recommended to leave it to a podiatrist who has obtained specialized training. Doing it on your own may cause pain and injury, leading to more infection. 

    Addressing an Ingrown Toenail


    • Avoid using sharp objects to try to remove the nail as this could cause an injury.
    • Once the nail actually pierces the skin, it creates a pathway for bacteria to enter. This could lead to an infection. Oozing, pus, a bad odor, increased redness, and fever are all potential indicators of infection and should be treated right away.
    • Disregard placing a piece of cotton between the nail and your flesh or cutting a notch in the side of your toe as these methods are not only unsafe but also unsuccessful.
    • Try to gently push the nail out of the skin by soaking it in warm water with soap and epsom salts. Schedule a visit with a podiatrist if you can’t remove the nail right away after soaking the foot because waiting will only make the pain worse.
    • If you have an ingrown nail, don’t be scared to visit the clinic to have it treated. The podiatrist will numb your toe first and then remove the nail. If this is a persistent issue, the foot doctor can conduct a quick surgery that may prevent part of the nail from growing back.
    • Avoid filing your nails into rounded shapes, and never pull or tear off stray sections of a nail.
    • Avoid cutting the nail too short as this can cause the outlying flesh of the toe to rise over the nail’s edge, forcing the nail down into the sidewalls, resulting in an ingrown nail.
    • Especially when nails are thick or tough, avoid flattening the nail since this can lead to pain and cracking on the sides of the free edge.
    • Don’t cut into the corners and instead leave the corners of your nails alone so they can grow out and away from the hyponychium. Sharp edges can cut into the skin, so use a small file to gradually round them without rounding the nail.
    • Avoid wearing tight-fitting socks and shoes with pointed or tiny toe boxes or high heels that squeeze the toes together to prevent ingrown toenails.


  • Do give your nails due attention when trimming them. Cut them straight across without any rounded edges.
  • Utilize the appropriate tools. Watch the size of your tools as well. For example, using a too-large curette under the toenail can generate too much pressure, lifting the nail plate and causing an ingrown nail.
  • Use little “nibbles” as you work your way over the nail rather than attempting to reduce the length in a single “bite.”
  • Take care of the skin around the nail. Ensuring that your toes are healthy and appropriately moisturized will help avoid ingrown nails. Utilize a home moisturizer that exfoliates to prevent calluses.
  • Wear appropriate footwear. It is important to wear comfortable shoes that allow your toes to move freely. Wearing ill-fitting shoes or high heels for long periods of time may cause ingrown toenails.
  • Establish a routine for nail trimming. If you are prone to ingrown nails, resolve to go eight weeks without clipping your nails at home and get pedicures that emphasize toenail growth and shape. 
  • How Long Does It Take an Ingrown Toenail to Heal?

    If you treat an ingrown toenail at home, it may heal in 2 to 3 days if it doesn’t become infected.

    If you have an underlying medical condition like diabetes, be cautious when getting pedicures or cutting your own nails at home. Make sure you don’t injure your foot. Patients who suffer from diabetes are likely to have delayed wound healing.

    In some cases, your ingrown toenail may require more extensive treatment such as antibiotics or surgery, in which case, healing could take longer. When it comes to treating ingrown nails, for any concerning cases, always consult your doctor and schedule a visit with your podiatrist. 

    Learn more about Nail Care here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Martha Juco, MD


    Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Oct 10, 2022

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