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Ingrown Nail

An ingrown nail grows into the flesh instead of over it and usually affects the toes, particularly the big toe. The site of an ingrown nail can be painful, tender, red, swollen, and can sometimes develop pus.

Ingrown nails are most often caused by:

  • Cutting the toenails too short or rounding the nail edges.
  • Having curved or thick nails.
  • Wearing shoes or socks that fit poorly or that press the nail into the toe.
  • Getting an injury such as stubbing the toe, which may cause the nail to grow inward.

Most ingrown nail problems can be prevented by proper nail care, such as cutting nails straight across, and by wearing shoes and socks that fit well. Home treatment, such as soaking the affected nail in hot water, can often help relieve pain. Antibiotics may be needed for an ingrown nail that becomes infected. A severely ingrown nail may have to be partially or completely removed.

Last Revised: October 7, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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