Comparing Nail Excision vs. Conservative Treatments for Ingrown Toenails

Does your toenail grow to the edges and break into the skin? If yes, then you may have developed an ingrown toenail. It is when nail conditions occur when your nail starts growing from the edges or corners into the skin and damages the skin. It is not only painful but also leads to infection if not treated early. Learn treatment options for ingrown toenails in this article.


Methods for treating an ingrown toenail

Usually, you can treat an ingrown toenail with home remedies and medical treatment. Medical treatment is required when an ingrown toenail can’t be fixed with home remedies.


Here are the common home remedies to treat ingrown toenails at home:

  • Soak your feet in warm water for around 15 to 20 minutes 3 to 4 times a day. It can make you feel less tender and reduce swelling.
  • Put dental floss or a cotton swab under the toenail, this will help your nail grow above the skin.
  • Put on some antibiotic cream or ointment and wrap it up with a bandage to prevent it from infection.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that don’t harm your toes. If possible, stick with sandals, flip-flops, or other open-toed shoes until your toe heals.
  • Take pain medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium to ease the pain.


In case home remedies don’t work, it’s time to see a doctor for medical treatment. If you notice the signs of infection such as fever and red streaks on your skin that go from the nail area, then tell the doctor. They may prescribe an antibiotic. If you have diabetes, then the chance of getting a nail infection is high which affects your healing process.


Medical treatment options

Doctors usually several practices to treat your ingrown toenail, like:

  • Lifting the nail: For a slightly ingrown nail, your healthcare provider may carefully lift the ingrown nail from the edge and place a cotton, dental floss, or a splint under it which separates the nail from the overlying skin and helps your nail grow above the skin’s edge. It may take 2 to 12 weeks (about 3 months). You need to sock the toe and replace the material daily when you’re at home. Your healthcare provider may prescribe a corticosteroid cream or ointment to apply after soaking or to reduce the need for daily replacement, you can use cotton coated in a solution that fixes it in place and makes it waterproof.
  • Taping the nail: Your healthcare provider uses this method to pull the skin away from the ingrown nail with tape. This stops your nails from growing toward the skin.
  • Placing a gutter splint under the nail: With this method, your healthcare provider first numbs the toe and slips a tiny slit tube underneath your nail root. This splint stays in place until the nail grows above the skin’s edge and it also reduces the pain of ingrown nails.


Now besides these methods, partial or full nail surgery is used to treat severe ingrown toenails. Surgical methods are recommended to treat ingrown toenails to cure this problem. However, it does not always work, but there is a higher probability that surgical methods prevent its recurrence than non-surgical methods.

  • Partial nail removal surgery: In this surgery, the doctor first numbs your toe and trims or removes the ingrown nail portion with its underlying cause. It may take 2 to 4 months for your toenail to grow back.
  • Full nail removal surgery: This surgery is recommended if an ingrown toenail occurs on the same toe, your healthcare provider may numb the toe and then apply chemicals like phenol, laser, or other methods to remove the nail completely along with underlying tissue. However, this procedure may affect the part where your nail will grow back.


After this procedure, you may need to take pain relief medication as needed. At home, to reduce swelling you need to apply a wet compression for a few minutes. Rest and keep your foot elevated for 12 to 24 hours. Avoid activities that may put pressure on your foot until it heals.


When do you need nail excision surgery?

In case your nail condition is not resolved with other medical treatment methods and home remedies such as a deformed, involuted, or ingrowing nail. Then, nail excision surgery is recommended. It’s up to your doctor whether to give you a partial or whole nail removal depending on how severe your condition is.


When to visit a podiatrist?

You should visit a podiatrist if you experience signs such as:

  • Severe pain or discomfort in the affected toe.
  • Inflamed skin from the toe which seems to be
  • If you have diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, or any other condition that causes poor blood flow to the feet and leads to foot soreness or infection.
  • If you develop an infection that causes redness, swelling, bleeding, or pus around the nail.



Nail excision and conservative treatment methods for ingrown toenails are used depending on the severity of the condition. If your ingrown toenails are severe, nail excision may be the best approach to treat the underlying cause and prevent it from recurrence. However, if your ingrown toenails are not severe then, home remedies and other treatment approaches are better choices to treat your ingrown toenails.


If you need help with your nail condition, then visit our podiatry clinic in Brooklyn to get professional medical service and tips to maintain good foot health. Doral Health & Wellness employs Podiatrists with extensive education and expertise. Trauma to the tendons, muscles, and bones of the foot is quite common. It’s not a good idea to put off seeing a Foot Doctor Brooklyn until you’re in a lot of pain. Our address is 1797 Pitkin Avenue, New York, NY 11212. To make an appointment, please call +1-347-384-5690 or send an email to