FAQs: Ingrown Toenails | Triad Foot & Ankle Center Triad

FAQs: Ingrown Toenails


Ingrown toenails are a real pain…in the toe. Millions of people suffer from them every year and they’re one of the most common foot-related conditions across all age levels.

While ingrown toenails are a very common condition, there are a lot of misconceptions about what causes them and how they can be treated. The podiatrists at Triad Foot Center are here to help dispel those pesky rumors and give you the facts about ingrown toenails.

What are ingrown toenails, exactly?

An ingrown toenail is a nail, often with a sharp corner, that has grown and curved downward into the skin on the sides of the nail. This often results in pain, redness, discomfort, swelling and warmth to the toe. Ingrown toenails most frequently occur on the big toe, but can also occur on any other toes.

How can I avoid an ingrown toenail?

The best way to avoid an ingrown toenail is to cut the nail straight across when trimming your toenails. If your nail is curved naturally, you can cut straight across the curve. However, be sure to never cut into the corners of your nails. Instead, if you clip your nails and end up with a sharp corner, simply file it gently instead of cutting the corner. Also, wearing shoes that don’t put pressure on the nails, which is a common occurrence in athletes (especially the big toe), can reduce the risk of an ingrown toenail developing.

Is it hereditary?

Yes, ingrown toenails can be hereditary, but you can still get ingrown toenails even if no one in your family has gotten them before. If your mom or dad suffers from them, you’re much more likely to experience one, but it also doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely suffer from an ingrown toenail, either.

Are ingrown toenails a result of cutting my toenail wrong?

Improper nail trimming is one of the top reasons why people suffer from ingrown toenails, but an ingrown toenail can also be caused from trauma (such as jamming or stubbing your toe), wearing ill-fitting shoes, and heredity. In addition, a bone spur under the nail can lead to an ingrown toenail.

I don’t cut my toenails very often. Does that cause ingrown toenails?

No. Ingrown toenails are not caused by letting your toenails grow out. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Ingrown toenails are more frequently caused by cutting the nails too short or incorrectly.

Can I just cut my ingrown toenail at home?

It is not recommended to cut your ingrown toenail at home. Many people believe that cutting a “v” into the corner of the nail will fix the problem, but that’s a myth. The “v” cutting shape doesn’t affect new nail growth. Instead, the nail will just continue to grow downward and cause more pain.

Can I get an ingrown toenail from a pedicure?

Yes. The nail technician can cut the nail incorrectly, which can cause an ingrown toenail.

Is an ingrown toenail procedure painful?

While an ingrown toenail procedure sounds painful—it’s not. Our podiatrists at Triad Foot Center use a numbing medication around the affected area to block any pain before correcting the ingrown nail. In addition, our podiatrists always make sure you are comfortable during the procedure.

How fast will I feel relief after having the procedure?

Immediately. While your toe may feel big, that is due to the numbing medication, which will wear off within 2-4 hours. If your ingrown nail was infected, the podiatrist will also prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection, which will help to alleviate any lingering pain. There may be some residual soreness around the site, but this will be minimal and fade quickly.

Do I have my whole nail removed if I have an ingrown toenail?

No. Only the part of the nail that is ingrown is removed. Sometimes, depending on the amount of the nail that is ingrown or infected, the entire nail may need to be removed.

If my child has an ingrown toenail, what should I do?

If you believe your child has an ingrown toenail, you should schedule an appointment with a podiatrist. Do not let them pick at the nail and do not try to fix it yourself. A child in pain and picking at a sore area with sharp objects are not a good combination.

What’s the difference between a temporary nail avulsion and a permanent nail avulsion?

Both procedures remove the entire nail border but with the permanent procedure, a chemical called phenol is utilized to help prevent the nail corner from growing back.

Will the nail grow back after a permanent nail avulsion?

Most likely not, though there is a small chance. The chemical that is applied to the corner of the nail prevents the nail from growing back.

If I have my toenail removed is there anything to help my toe look better?

Yes. An artificial toenail can be made to fit over your nail bed. No one will ever know that it’s not your real nail!

For more information about ingrown toenails or to schedule an appointment with one of our podiatrists at Triad Foot Center, please click here to request an appointment or call any of our three office locations in the Piedmont Triad.

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