Ingrown Toenails — Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Ingrown toenails can be a real pain. In fact, nothing can make you appreciate having healthy nails quite like experiencing an ingrown nail that pushes, rubs, and irritates the surrounding area. Dealing with pain can easily ruin your day. Fortunately, you can find ingrown toenail relief from Scottsdale podiatrist Dr. Steven Burns at Arizona Foot Doctors.

Two kids running down a hallway

What are ingrown toenails?

Known in the medical field as Unguis incarnatus or Onychocryptosis, an ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the toenail is too sharp and begins to dig into the surrounding skin. Although any toenail can become ingrown, the condition is most common on the big toe. It is a common problem for both children and adults, and for men especially.

Ingrown toenails typically cause inflammation, redness, and severe pain at the affected spot. As the toenail continues to grow, the pain becomes worse and may become infected if tissue begins to grow around the inflammation.

For many, a severe ingrown toenail affects everyday activity, making shoes and socks uncomfortable. When a condition this serious is left untreated, surgery may be required. Early treatment from the Scottsdale podiatrists at Arizona Foot Doctors, however, will eliminate the need for invasive treatment methods or surgery.

Doctor treating an ingrown toenail on male patient

What causes ingrown toenails?

There are a number of known ingrown toenail causes, but the most common cause is footwear that fits too tightly. The pressure of tightly fitted shoes can force the edge of the nail down into the skin, causing it to become inflamed. The second most common cause relates to how the toenail is trimmed. Cutting the nail too short, or cutting it at an angle instead of straight across, encourages the nail to grow awkwardly and begin to make its way into the skin.

List of common ingrown toenail causes:

  • Tightly fitted shoes
  • Cutting the nail too short or at an angle
  • Wearing heels
  • Playing soccer or sports that involve foot contact with a ball
  • Stubbing your toe
  • Injuring your toe/foot
  • Heredity


What are the common symptoms of ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails can be painful and unsightly. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness around the affected area
  • Redness surrounding the nail
  • Swelling and inflammation around the nail
  • Curved appearance of the nail
  • Infection of tissue around the nail

For ingrown toenail symptom relief, contact the Scottsdale podiatry specialists at Arizona Foot Doctors.

How to relieve ingrown toenail pain

Here are two fast, at-home remedies you can use to try to alleviate the pain of a mildly ingrown toenail:

  1. Foot soak: Soak the affected nail(s) in warm, soapy water or apple cider vinegar for 20 minutes/day. This simple soak will relieve the discomfort you feel.
  2. Gentle placeholder: For some patients, putting a tiny bit of cotton or dental floss under the affected nail encourages it to grow in the right direction.

If your condition is severe and these at-home remedies do not provide relief, it is best to contact a podiatrist for professional care and treatment. If you’re looking for a podiatrist in Scottsdale, Arizona Foot Doctors can relieve your ingrown toenail pain.

How to prevent ingrown toenails?

When you wear comfortable shoes and socks that leave plenty of space in the toe bed, you limit pressure on the toenails and avoid injury — and the potential for developing an ingrown toenail. Also, make sure you’re carefully trimming your nails. Cut straight across and avoid tapering the nail down at the sides.


How do you treat ingrown toenails?

Treatment for ingrown nails mostly involves relieving the pain caused by the downward curving nail. Some pain relief methods that podiatrists practice include gentle massaging, laser therapy treatment, and, in more severe cases, toenail removal (medically known as partial nail avulsion). After a partial nail avulsion, it takes two to four months for the nail to regrow.

In general, ingrown toenail treatment is simple and straightforward. Treatment becomes complicated if you have a toenail infection, diabetes, poor circulation to the foot, or nerve damage in your foot (these conditions impact the healing process). For assistance in treating ingrown toenails, contact a podiatrist at Arizona Foot Doctors in Scottsdale today. After a gentle evaluation of your feet, we’ll work together to create an ingrown toenail treatment plan.

Scottsdale ingrown toenail treatment center

More than 40 million adults have experienced an ingrown toenail, and, in many cases, they can be remedied at home. However, if you suspect that your problem is severe or you notice you have chronic issues with ingrown nails, consult with the podiatrists at Arizona Foot Doctors in Scottsdale for care and treatment.

Our team stands ready to help and is proud to offer long-term ingrown toenail pain relief, heel pain relief, and foot & ankle pain relief. Our ingrown toenail treatment center is located near Shea and the 101. To schedule your Scottsdale podiatry appointment, book online or call (480) 661-7572.

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