Ingrown Toenails: Navigating Diagnosis, and Prevention

Do you have no idea what to do about the pain and swelling caused by your ingrown toenail? An ingrown toenail occurs when the nail’s edge grows into the surrounding skin (instead of over it). This usually affects the big toe, causing pain, swelling, inflammation, and on rare occasions, infection. Growing nails pierce the skin deeper and more deeply, which can be uncomfortable and irritate the skin. If an ingrown toenail is not treated, it may worsen over time and lead to a serious infection. To learn everything there is to know about diagnosis of ingrown toenails, continue reading.


Diagnosing an ingrown toenail starts with an examination of the affected toe by a doctor. The doctor will look for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, drainage, and tenderness in the nail and surrounding skin.

The doctor will also ask questions about the patient’s medical history, including:

  • How long has the ingrown toenail been a problem? This helps determine the severity and chronicity.
  • Is there pain, and how severe is it? Pain levels help assess the extent of the condition.
  • Have there been any signs of infection like pus, redness, and swelling? Infection often complicates ingrown nails.
  • Have there been any injuries to the toe? Trauma can cause ingrown nails.
  • Are there any current medical conditions like diabetes or poor circulation? These increase infection risk.
  • Are there any allergies or sensitivities? This is important for medication choices.
  • What treatments have already been tried? Home remedies attempted by you provide insight.
  • What medications are currently being taken? Drugs like blood thinners affect care options.

The doctor combines the physical exam findings with the medical history to make a diagnosis and determine the best treatment plan.


There are several things you can do to help prevent ingrown toenails:

  • Proper nail trimming: Cut your toenails straight across instead of rounded or curved. Use toenail clippers and trim your nails after bathing when they are soft. Never cut into the corners of the nails.
  • Wider/looser footwear: Choose shoes and socks with adequate toe room to avoid pressure and friction on the nails. Avoid tight, narrow, or ill-fitting footwear.
  • Apply petroleum jelly: After bathing, apply petroleum jelly along the edges and corners of the toenail. This can help soften the nail and keep it from growing into the skin.
  • Take care of nail fungus: If you have a fungal nail infection, get prompt treatment. Ingrown toenails are more likely to develop with toenail fungus. Keeping your nails clear of fungus can help prevent ingrown toenails.

Following proper nail and foot care habits can go a long way towards preventing painful ingrown toenails. Paying attention to nail trimming techniques, wearing appropriate footwear, using petroleum jelly, and treating nail fungus are all effective preventive measures. With diligent self-care, ingrown toenails can often be avoided.

When to See a doctor?

You should see your doctor if you have severe pain, swelling, or other signs of infection in your ingrown toenail. Signs that it may be infected include redness, pus drainage, foul odor, and fever.

See your doctor right away if:

– The pain or swelling is severe and limits your activity or sleep

– You have a fever along with a red, warm, swollen toe

– Pus or foul-smelling discharge is draining from the area

– Red streaks are spreading from the affected toe

Your doctor can diagnose an infection and prescribe antibiotics to treat it. They may also recommend nail removal (nail avulsion) if the ingrown part cannot be relieved through other treatments. Surgical removal is often necessary in severe or recurring cases to fully remove the ingrown section and prevent it from growing back irregularly.

Don’t try to remove the nail yourself. Self-treatment can make the problem worse and lead to avoidable complications. Get professional medical care if over-the-counter remedies aren’t relieving your symptoms. Catching it early can help avoid a more invasive or complicated procedure.

If you experience any foot problem, visit our podiatry clinic in Brooklyn, where professionals examine your foot and treat it accordingly so that your foot gets better as soon as possible. For more tips on healthy feet, or if you need help with finding a good podiatrist, 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