Do I Have an Ingrown Toenail?

By Step Alive Foot & Ankle Center
July 18, 2022
Category: Foot Conditions
Tags: Ingrown Toenail  

Are you dealing with a painful toenail? It could be an ingrown toenail.

Any ingrown toenail happens when the edge of a toenail, typically the big toenail, grows into the skin. As you might imagine, it can be pretty painful (but if you have one, we certainly don’t have to tell you). If you suspect you might have an ingrown toenail but are unsure, here’s what you should know, including telltale signs of one.

Why Do Ingrown Toenails Happen?

There are many reasons why you could be dealing with an ingrown toenail. Of course, one of the most common causes is not trimming your toenail correctly. Didn’t realize there was a right and wrong way to keep your toe? Well, there is! If you trim your nails too short or cut them at a curve (rather than straight), you may be prone to developing an ingrown toenail.

Ingrown toenails can also happen if you’ve recently injured the toe (even stubbing your toe counts) or if your shoes are just a little too tight.

What Are the Symptoms of an Ingrown Toenail?

If you have an ingrown toenail, the first symptom you may experience is foot pain around the affected nail. The area may also be red, swollen or tender to the touch.

When Should I Call My Foot Doctor?

While soaking the toe and allowing it time to heal (you better stop wearing those tight-fitted shoes during this time!) can often be all that’s needed to manage your symptoms until the nail is healthy again, some circumstances warrant visiting us for care including,

  • When at-home measures haven’t improved your symptoms within three days
  • When the pain gets worse (this could be a sign of infection)
  • When the toe becomes severely swollen, is warm to the touch or begins to drain pus
  • If you have nerve damage in your feet, diabetes or circulation problems

If in doubt about whether you may be dealing with an ingrown toenail, call your podiatrist to find out if your symptoms warrant coming in for a consultation. If you develop increased redness and pain, fever or skin that’s warm to the touch, these are signs of an infection, and it’s important that you turn to your foot doctor immediately.

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