How to Treat an Ingrown Nail

Ingrown nails can be painful and can become infected if they are left untreated. See more pictures of skin problems.
© L. Pomares G.

The shoes that look good may not be the ones that feel good, and choosing style over comfort can sometimes cause pain. Ingrown toenails are one of the most common side effects of picking footwear that doesn't really fit your feet.

An ingrown nail curves down and into the surrounding skin as it grows, causing the skin to grow over the nail. Although fingernails can also become ingrown, toenails, especially the big toe, are more susceptible to this condition [source: WebMD].

Ill-fitting shoes are one of the main causes of ingrown toenails. Other common causes include cutting your toenails incorrectly, injuring your toe or heredity. If you were born with nails that are too large for your toes or nails that naturally curve, you may be more at risk of developing ingrown toenails. You can work to prevent ingrown toenails by trimming your nails correctly and wearing shoes that give your toes more room. You should also trim your nails regularly, cutting them straight across the top and rounding the edges, to prevent them from growing too long [sources: Mayo Clinic, WebMD].

Symptoms of ingrown nails include redness, swelling, pain and sometimes pus drainage. You can usually treat an ingrown nail on your own, but your doctor can also perform simple surgical procedures to treat recurrent ingrown nails. If an ingrown nail is left untreated for too long, it can become infected and require antibiotics, so it's best to take steps to remedy an ingrown nail as soon as possible.

If you opted for the stylish instead of the sensible shoes and now have an ingrown nail, you can begin treatment immediately [source: American Podiatric Medical Association]. Read on to learn how to treat an ingrown nail.