For a slightly ingrown nail (redness and pain but no discharge), your doctor may place cotton under the edge of the nail to separate the nail from the overlying skin. This helps the nail eventually grow above the skin edge.
Partial nail removal. For a more severe ingrown toenail (redness, pain and pus), your doctor may trim or remove the ingrown portion of the nail. Before this procedure, your doctor may numb your toe by injecting it with an anesthetic.
Nail and tissue removal. For a recurrent ingrown toenail, your doctor may suggest removing a portion of your toenail along with the underlying tissue (nail bed) to prevent that part of your nail from growing back. This procedure can be done with a chemical, a laser or other methods.
Your doctor may also recommend using topical or oral antibiotics for ingrown toenail treatment, especially if the toe is infected or at risk of becoming infected.
You can treat most ingrown toenails at home. Here are some home treatments for ingrown toenails:
Soak your feet. Do this for 15-20 minutes three times a day in warm water. Soaking reduces swelling and relieves tenderness.
Place cotton under your toenail. Put fresh bits of cotton under the ingrown edge after each soaking. This will help the nail eventually grow above the skin edge. Change the cotton daily until the pain and redness subside.
Use a topical antibiotic. Apply an antibiotic ointment and bandage the tender area.
Choose sensible footwear. Consider wearing open-toed shoes or sandals until your toe feels better.
Take pain relievers. If there's severe pain, take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to relieve the pain until you can make an appointment with your doctor.
Check your feet. If you have diabetes, check your feet daily for signs of ingrown toenails or other foot problems.
MC Ortega is the former publicist for the late Walter Payton, Coca-Cola and Dunkin’ Donuts.