Treating Ingrown Toenails

Some medical conditions are just more likely to happen to particular demographics than others:

  • Arthritis can develop in patients of all ages, but a majority of cases are for older patients.
  • Achilles tendinitis tends to be most common for middle-aged men (since they often have full-time careers and family obligations that keep them fairly inactive—physically—during the week, but then give everything they have in weekend rec leagues or pick-up basketball games).
  • Women develop bunions more frequently than do men.

This is not the case with ingrown toenails!

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Ingrown toenails are a medical problem that can—and do!—happen to humans of all ages, genders, races, religions, political beliefs, and any other grouping you could possibly come up with. A two-month old infant and senior who have broken the century mark both may have to deal with this particular issue.

What this means is there is a certain degree of risk you will have a nail become ingrown – and we can say this confidently without even knowing who you are! (The internet can be the ultimate invasion of privacy at times, but our practice does not have anywhere near that kind of capability…yet.)

Since there is at least a chance you may experience the pain and discomfort that comes from an ingrown toenail, we want to offer a look at some of the ways to handle this problem, including:

  • Soak in warm, soapy water. Soaking the affected foot may help reduce swelling and ease pain. You can soak your foot in warm, soapy water three times a day for up to 20 minutes at a time. Castile soap is a good option. Adding Epsom salts to the water may bring additional relief.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment. Using over-the-counter antibiotic ointment or cream can promote healing and help reduce the risk of infection. Apply the ointment to the affected toenail following the manufacturer’s instructions, usually up to three times daily. Be sure to bandage the toenail after application.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks. Shoes and socks that are too tight can crowd your toes. This is considered to be a leading cause of ingrown toenails. To help prevent an ingrown toenail from developing or worsening, wear shoes and socks (or hosiery) that fit but still leave ample space in the toe bed. During the healing process, avoid shoes or wear sandals as much as possible to limit pressure on your toenails.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may help relieve ingrown toenail pain. Side effects are unusual unless you take more than the daily recommended amount of 3,000 milligrams daily or you take it with alcohol. If swelling is present, ibuprofen (Advil) may be a better option because it relieves both pain and swelling, but this does have potential side effects of upset stomach, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.


These are all potential options for milder cases of ingrown toenails, but severe or recurrent cases may need professional treatment at our office. If you are unable to find relief on your own, or you have a toenail that continually becomes ingrown, we may need to explore more aggressive treatment options.

For more information—or to request an appointment with us—simply call (908) 687-5757.

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