Ingrown Toenail

Feet | Dermatology | Ingrown Toenail (Symptom)


An ingrown toenail, also known as onychocryptosis or unguis incarnates, is a painful condition of the toe.

Any toenail can become ingrown, but the condition is usually found in the big toe. An ingrown toenail is a common disorder that most often affects the outer edge of the big toe. However, the nail on any toe, or the nail on both sides of a toe, can become ingrown. The most common signs and symptoms are pain, redness, and swelling at the corner of a toenail. Early in the course of an ingrown toenail, the end of the toe becomes reddened and painful with mild swelling. There is no pus or drainage. It may feel warm to the touch, but you will not have a fever.


It occurs when a sharp corner of the toenail digs into the skin at the end of or side of the toe. Pain and inflammation at the spot where the nail curls into the skin occurs first. Later, the inflamed area can begin to grow extra tissue or drain yellowish fluid.

If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can progress to an infection or even an abscess that requires surgical treatment. Osteomyelitis is a rare complication of an infected toe, in which the bone itself becomes infected. Ingrown toenails are common in adults but uncommon in children and infants. They are more common in men than in women. Young adults in their 20s or 30s are most at risk.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment for an ingrown fingernail includes warm soaks, proper nail trimming, and antibiotics. Partial nail removal may be required in some cases, in order to promote healing. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may help relieve pain. Skin infections may require treatment with antibiotics.