Ingrown Toenail Care


Stinging pain, tenderness, and swelling around your toe are early signs of an ingrown toenail. At West America Foot and Ankle in San Mateo, California, highly skilled podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon Gilbert Huang, DPM, can diagnose and treat ingrown toenails before they lead to infection or tissue damage. Call the podiatry clinic today or schedule an appointment online to learn more.

Ingrown Toenails Q&A

What are ingrown toenails?

An ingrown toenail, or onychocryptosis, occurs when the outer edge of the nail digs into the surrounding skin. As the nail grows, it can puncture the skin, increasing your risk of pain, infection, and even nail loss. Understanding the early signs of ingrown toenails is the most effective way to prevent damage and deformities in your foot.

While ingrown toenails can affect any of your toes, they’re most common in the big toe because it has a thicker, more fibrous nail.

What are the early signs of ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails don’t develop overnight. They take time to grow into your skin. The earlier you seek care for an ingrown nail, the less likely you are to need surgical intervention. Early warning signs of an ingrown toenail include:

  • Red, inflamed skin around the nail
  • Tenderness
  • Pain when walking or wearing shoes
  • Visible pus between the skin and nail

If you have a condition that prevents healthy blood circulation, like diabetes, contact Dr. Huang for a consultation right away. He can evaluate your feet to determine the appropriate next steps. 

What causes ingrown toenails?

While ingrown toenails can happen to anybody, certain factors can increase your risk, such as:

  • Nail injuries
  • Naturally curved nails
  • Narrow-fitting shoes
  • Certain foot deformities
  • Underlying medical conditions
  • Being a senior
  • Being an adolescent

Improper toenail trimming is one of the most common causes of ingrown toenails. You should always cut your nails straight across, not at a curved angle. 

What are the treatments for ingrown toenails?

Treatments for ingrown toenails depend on the severity of the injury. After a comprehensive evaluation, Dr. Huang may recommend:

Lifting the toenail

If your nail is not too deep into the skin, Dr. Huang can soften the nail’s edge and gently lift it out of the skin to promote healing and relieve pain.

Partial removal

Nails that are deeply embedded into the skin may require partial removal. After numbing your toe, Dr. Huang lifts and cuts away at the damaged portion of the nail. It can take several months for the nail to grow back.

Full removal

In severe cases, Dr. Huang may recommend completely removing the nail to relieve your pain and address possible infections. He may also remove part of the nail bed during this procedure.

Call West America Foot and Ankle today or schedule an appointment online to learn more about ingrown toenails.