Ingrown Toenail (Onychocryptosis)

  • Medical Author:
    Kyoung Min Han, DPM, AACFAS

    Dr. Kyoung Min Han is a podiatrist (foot and ankle specialist) practicing in Southern California. Dr. Han completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, San Diego, and went on to the New York College of Podiatric Medicine to pursue her medical training. She returned to her native Southern California to complete a three-year foot and ankle surgical residency, followed by subspecialty training in a sports medicine fellowship.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideNail Color and Texture: What Nails Say About Your Health

Nail Color and Texture: What Nails Say About Your Health

What are possible complications of ingrown toenails?

A persisting ingrown toenail can have serious consequences. A localized infection of the nail border (paronychia) can progress to a deeper soft-tissue infection (cellulitis), which can in turn progress to a bone infection (osteomyelitis). Complications can include scarring of the surrounding skin and nail borders (nail fold hypertrophy) as well as thickened, deformed (onychodystrophy) fungal toenails (onychomycosis). Sometimes, there is an enlargement of soft tissue at the nail fold that easily bleeds and drains.

Are there any home remedies for an ingrown toenail?

The following home remedies may provide temporary relief.

  • Lukewarm water foot soaks for 15-20 minutes with any one of the following options can be helpful: one part white vinegar to four parts water; 2 tablespoons Epsom salts per quart of water; or a dilute Clorox type bleach with 1/3 teaspoon of Clorox in 1 gallon of water. Gently massage the affected skin area downward while soaking.
  • Elevate the foot and leg.
  • Take oral anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Apply antibacterial ointments on the affected side of the nail.
  • Trim the toenail straight across the top without digging into the corners or leaving them too short.
  • Carefully rolling back the overgrown skin at the affected nail border may allow one to slip a small piece of cotton or dental floss to lift the offending edge of the nail up from the skin.
  • Wait for the nail to outgrow while attempting any one of the above methods.

If symptoms persist, medical treatment from a podiatrist is recommended.

Reviewed on 7/5/2017

American Podiatric Medical Association

Connolly, B., and R.J. Fitzgerald. "Pledgets in ingrowing toenails." Arch Dis Child 63 (1988): 71.

Cox, H.A., and M.R.O. Jones. "Direct extension osteomyelitis secondary to chronic onychocryptosis. Three case reports." Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association 85.6 (1995): 321-324.

DeLauro, N.M., and T.M. DeLauro. "Onychocryptosis." Clinics in Podiatric Medicine and Surgery 21.4 (2004): 617-630.

Gunal, I., C. Kosay, A. Veziroglu, Y. Balkan, and F. Ilhan. "Relationship between onychocryptosis and foot type and treatment with toe spacer. A preliminary investigation." Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association 93.1 (2003): 33-36.

Heidelbaugh, J.J., and H. Lee. "Management of the ingrown toenail." American Family Physician 79.4 (2009): 303-308.

Reyzelman, A.M., K.A. Trombello, D.J. Vayser, et al. "Are antibiotics necessary in the treatment of locally infected ingrown toenails?" Arch Fam Med 9 (2000): 930.

Richert, B. "Surgical management of ingrown toenails -- an update overdue." Dermatol Ther 25.6 (2012): 498-509.






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