Treatment for Ingrown Toenails: Nail Excision

Are you unsure of how to treat the pain and swelling on your ingrown toenail? When the nail’s edge grows into the surrounding skin rather than over it, the result is an ingrown toenail. This frequently affects the big toe, resulting in discomfort, swelling, redness, and occasionally infection. As the nail grows, its edge pierces the skin and gets deeper, causing discomfort, inflammation, and irritation. An ingrown toenail can become worse over time and possibly result in a serious infection if left untreated. Keep reading to know all about the treatment options available for Ingrown toenails.

Home Treatments

There are several simple things you can try at home to help manage an ingrown toenail and relieve pain while waiting to see a doctor:

  • Soaking your feet in warm water with Epsom salts can help soften the nails and reduce swelling and irritation. Soak for 10-15 minutes a few times per day.
  • Wear sandals or loose, open-toed shoes as much as possible to avoid pressure on the affected toe. Tight shoes will aggravate the ingrown nail.
  • Trim nails properly by cutting them straight across instead of rounded at the edges. Cut nails after bathing when they are soft. Use clean, sharp nail clippers.
  • Slide a small piece of clean cotton or dental floss under the corner of the ingrown nail to help lift it away from the skin. Change daily and avoid threading all the way under the nail.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce discomfort.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry to prevent infection. Avoid picking at the toenail.

These self-care measures can provide relief while waiting for the nail to grow out. But if symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to see a podiatrist or dermatologist for medical treatment. Untreated ingrown nails can lead to infection and permanent nail damage.

Medical Treatments 

If home remedies don’t relieve your ingrown toenail pain or infection occurs, your doctor may recommend medical treatments such as:

Antibiotics: If the area becomes infected, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics to treat the infection. Some common antibiotics used are cephalexin or dicloxacillin. For mild infections, an antibiotic ointment or cream can be applied directly on the toe.

Steroid injections: Your doctor may inject a steroid medication into the swollen, inflamed skin next to your toenail. This helps reduce inflammation and pain. The results are temporary, lasting a few weeks.

Surgical Options

Surgical treatment for ingrown toenails aims to prevent recurrence and permanently remove the affected portion of the nail. The main surgical options include:

Partial nail removal (nail edge) – This is one of the most common surgeries for ingrown toenails. The surgeon will numb the toe and use special instruments to remove the edge of the nail that’s growing into the skin. They may also destroy the nail root along that edge to prevent regrowth. This allows the nail to grow out normally.

Full nail removal (entire nail) – In severe recurring cases, the entire toenail may need to be surgically removed. This is called a total nail avulsion or complete matricectomy. After numbing the area, the surgeon extracts the whole nail and destroys the matrix (root) to prevent regrowth. The nail bed is left open to heal. A new nail will not grow back.

The nail removal procedure can provide immediate pain relief. After surgery, you’ll have a bandage on your toe. Your doctor will give you instructions on caring for your toe while it heals. Full nail removal means several months before the nail grows back.

Chemical matricectomy – This is another option to prevent an ingrown toenail from returning after a partial or full removal. The doctor applies a chemical like phenol to the nail matrix area to destroy nail cells and stop regrowth permanently. There may be less pain and recovery time with this versus total nail removal.

The choice of surgical procedure depends on factors like the severity of the condition, recurrences, patient preferences, and the surgeon’s recommendations. These procedures are often done under local anesthesia in an outpatient setting. Following post-op wound care instructions can help with healing and prevent infection. Most people are able to resume normal activities within 1-2 weeks after nail surgery.


Recovery Time

After nail excision surgery, it typically takes around 1-2 weeks for the toe to recover. It’s important to give the toe adequate rest during this time to allow the surgical site to heal properly. Patients will need to keep the bandaged toe dry and elevated as much as possible.

In the first few days after surgery, swelling and bruising are common. Pain medication is usually prescribed to keep patients comfortable. Patients may be instructed to limit walking or wear open-toed shoes during the initial recovery period to avoid putting pressure on the toe.

Around 5-7 days after surgery, the initial bandage will be removed and replaced. The doctor will check on the progress of healing. At this point, swelling should have started to go down. After 2 weeks, swelling should be minimal, and patients can ease back into regular activities. It takes several weeks for the nail to fully grow back in after removal. Most people are able to return to normal shoes and activity after about 2 weeks.

Full recovery takes approximately 4-6 weeks (about 1 and a half months). During this time, it’s essential to keep the toe clean and dry to prevent infection. Some minor pain, sensitivity, or nail discoloration can persist for a couple of months after surgery as the nail regrows. With proper aftercare, most people recover fully from an ingrown toenail removal.


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