How Do I Know I Have an Infected Ingrown Toenail, and What Should I Do?


Ingrown toenails refer to the condition where a side or corner of your toenail grows to project into the flesh that surrounds the toe. The big toe commonly gets affected by this condition. Nevertheless, you should not worry much as the condition is treatable at home.

However, some cases might lead to complications that will need professional medical treatment by a foot specialist. It mainly will occur when you have diabetes or other conditions that cause poor blood circulation.

This complication is an infected ingrown toenail. Cases of infections to the ingrown nail might occur, and not many people will be able to tell whether the ingrown tail is infected. Below are the symptoms of an infected ingrown toenail:

Symptoms of Infection

  • Throbbing and pain on touching
  • Bleeding
  • Foul smell
  • Pus-filled blister around the ingrown nail area
  • The proliferation of new inflamed tissue cells at the nail edges
  • Cracked yellow nails
  • Redness and swelling
  • Warmth on the skin around the nail
  • Difficulty in walking or performing other activities

What To Do if You Have an Infected Ingrown Toenail?

In case you notice such symptoms, you need to get treatment to prevent the condition from worsening. The treatment could be home remedies or seeking your doctor's attention when there are no improvements.

You don't need to tear your nail in case of infection. You can do the following at home  to help:

Apply a Warm Water Soak to Your Foot

Soaking your feet in warm salty water often makes the affected area soft. This action helps in draining the accumulated pus and consequently reducing pain.

Use of Antibiotics and Antifungal Creams

It will help if you apply an antibiotic or antifungal cream to the infected nail. The surrounding skin should also be considered.

Pharmacy Drugs

Taking pain relievers will help you reduce the pain symptoms of the condition. For the worst-case scenarios, you have to visit your foot specialist for professional help.

When the situation gets to this point, the following can be done to treat the infection:

Lifting the Nail

Your doctor might lift your nail and place cotton or dental floss under it, separating them from over-laying, helping the nail grow over the skin. At home, you will need to soak your toe and replace the material daily.

Partially Removing the Nail

For a more severe ingrown nail, the doctor may trim the ingrown portion of the nail. 

Removing the Nail and Tissue

If your problem is persistent on the same toe, your doctor might recommend removing the pin and the underlying tissue or the nail bed.

Ways of Preventing Ingrown Toenails

Prevention is always better than cure. You can take the following precautions to prevent an incidence of ingrown toenail

  • You should wear proper fitting shoes or socks.
  • If you have abnormally curved toenails, you should seek medical attention. In that case, surgery might be necessary to prevent ingrown nails.
  • It would help if you avoided cutting toenails too short.
  • When working in hazardous conditions, wear safety boots to protect your nails.


It would be best if you took good care of your nails to prevent ingrown toenails. Hygiene is significant in case of an ingrown nail to prevent other infections. Lastly, you should seek your doctor's advice as soon as possible in case of further complications.