If you have diabetes, nerve damage in the leg or foot, poor blood circulation to your foot, or an infection around the nail, go to the doctor right away. Do not try to treat an ingrown nail at home.
Otherwise, to treat an ingrown nail at home:
- Soak the foot in warm water 3 to 4 times a day if possible. After soaking, keep the toe dry.
- Gently massage over the inflamed skin.
- Place a small piece of cotton or dental floss under the nail. Wet the cotton with water or antiseptic.
When trimming your toenails:
- Briefly soak your foot in warm water to soften the nail.
- Use a clean, sharp trimmer.
- Trim toenails straight across the top. Do not taper or round the corners or trim too short. Do not try to cut out the ingrown portion of the nail yourself. This will only make the problem worse.
Consider wearing sandals until the problem goes away. Over-the-counter medication that is applied to the ingrown toenail may help with the pain, but it does not treat the problem.
If this does not work and the ingrown nail gets worse, see your family doctor, a foot specialist (podiatrist) or a skin specialist (dermatologist).
If your ingrown nail does not heal or keeps coming back, your doctor may remove part of the nail:
- Numbing medicine is first injected into the toe.
- The doctor uses scissors to cut along the edge of the nail where the skin is growing over. This portion of the nail is removed. This procedure is called a partial nail avulsion.
- It takes 2 to 4 months for the nail to regrow.
Sometimes your doctor will use a chemical, electrical current, or another small surgical cut to destroy or remove the area from which a new nail may grow.
If the toe is infected, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.