Ingrown Toenails| Treating Ingrown Toenails

What is an Ingrown Toenail?
Ingrown toenails are nails that are curved and grow into the skin causing irritation, pain, redness, and swelling. Ingrown toenails can cause a break in the skin.  When this occurs it allows bacteria to enter the area which can cause infection.

Drawings from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons


  • Family history
  • Trauma - stubbing the toe, kicking, or running
  • Shoes that are too tight or short
  • Toenail fungus
  • Most common - improper trimming of the toenails

Cutting the nail too short, particularly along the sides of the big toes can encourage the skin next to the nail to fold over it. Ingrown toenails occur when the corners or sides of the toenail dig into the skin, often causing infection. Ingrown toenails start out hard, swollen, and tender.

Sometimes ingrown nails can be treated at home, but not if an infection has set in or you have a medical condition such as diabetes, nerve damage, or poor circulation.

Home treatment

  • Soak your foot in room-temperature water with Epsom's salt
  • Gently massage the side of the nail fold to help reduce inflammation
  • Avoid wearing tight shoes or socks.

Treatment can include:

  • Oral antibiotics if an infection is present
  • Surgery - this is a common procedure done right in our office. It is often needed in order to ease the pain and discomfort of the offending nail.  After applying a local anesthetic, the doctor removes part of the nail’s side border. Some nails may become ingrown again, requiring removal of the nail root.  Most of our patients experience very little pain after surgery and can start normal activity the next day.

After surgery

  • Follow the post-op instructions given to you by our office
  • If our doctors have prescribed oral antibiotics, be sure to take all the medication, even if your symptoms have improved.


  • Trim your toenails straight across with no rounded corners.
  • Wear shoes and socks that are not too tight.
  • Keep your feet clean at all times.

For more information about ingrown toenails:

Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment, often same day. You can also request an appointment online.

Get our free foot book "No More Foot Pain" , mailed directly to your home.

Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.