Ingrown Toenail: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

An ingrown toenail occurs when a toenail cuts into the adjacent skin, causing inflammation and discomfort. The large (great) toes are most commonly affected.

Signs and symptoms of an ingrown toenail arise from inflammation of the nail bed. These include toe pain, swelling, redness of the nail bed, and yellow, foul-smelling (pus) drainage. Other associated signs and symptoms can include limping or gait disturbances due to the toe pain. Ingrown toenails often recur after treatment. If the nail bed becomes infected, cellulitis (infection and inflammation of the surrounding skin and connective tissues) may result.

Causes of ingrown toenails

Growth of the nail into the nail fold (the tissue surrounding the nail) causes an ingrown toenail. Injury to the toenails, tight footwear, and cutting the nails too short are all factors that can increase the likelihood of developing an ingrown toenail.

Other ingrown toenail symptoms and signs


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.