Edmonds Medical Clinic Articles

Ingrown Toenail

“I can’t walk because my toenail hurts.”

Ingrown toenails that are difficult to walk properly if left without proper treatment at the beginning….  What is the cure?

Ingrown toenail Pic 1

What is ingrown toenail?

This is a common disease that causes inflammation in the area where the toenail and the flesh contact.

If the toenail is cut incorrectly, the spot will be swollen, the area in contact with the flesh will become inflamed, and even a slight touch will cause severe pain, and itself will become swollen.

What is the cause?

  • When cutting the outside of the toenail deeply, the fragments of the uncut toenail hidden in the flesh penetrate the flesh and it occur.
  • When the shape of the toenail is deformed by leaving athlete’s foot for a long time
  • When wearing tight shoes for a long time
  • When the toe bone protrudes, and the internal pressure increases
  • When obesity or aging progresses and the toenail curves naturally become severe
  • Genetic factor with many ingrown toenails in the family

What are the symptoms?

  • Hot sensation, pain, swelling, etc. occur in the area.
  • If friction continues, more swelling and purulent inflammation begin, resulting in severe pain.
  • It is most common on the big toe.

What is the diagnosis method?

No special examination or biopsy is required, and diagnosis can be made only with clinical characteristics.

What is the treatment?

1. Early stage:

Soak your feet in warm water to soften your toenails. After drying the water, gently lift the toenails with pincers. If cotton-wisp or dental floss is inserted between the edge of the toenail and the flesh under it, the toenail and the skin are separated, helping to grow properly without causing pain.

Ingrown Toenail Pic 2

There is also a method of treatment with a toenail correction tool. Try 20 min daily for 6-12 weeks.


2. Late Stage:

  • If the inflammation becomes severe, the bacteria invade and develop into purulent inflammation. In this case, antibiotic treatment is required.
  • After local anesthesia, a procedure to remove the ingrown toenail vertically should be performed.

Progression / Complication?

  • If the ingrown toenail is left untreated, it may cause gait problem due to pain.
  • Severe inflammation may lead to purulent secondary bacterial infection.


  • You need to take a thorough rest and refrain from actions that constantly put pressure on your feet.
  • Cut toenails straight, avoid cutting too tightly.
  • Avoid shoes that are too tight or high-heeled shoes.
  • Frequent foot bathing helps relieve foot fatigue and softens the toenails.
  • Patients with diabetic complication should be more careful.

Steven Koh, MD
Family Medicine
Edmonds Medical Clinic