How to treat ingrown toenails

Updated February 21, 2017

When the skin surrounding your toenail turns red and swollen and starts causing you a lot of discomfort, it is probable that your toenail has grown into your toe. Chronic ingrown toenails require the services of a podiatrist.

Wipe your instruments off with alcohol or betadine. Be sure to get the undersides of your nail clippers, as that is the cutting surface that will be against your skin.

Put 2 capfuls of povidone-iodine (Betadine) solution, into 1/2 gal. warm water. Put your foot in the water and soak for 10 minutes.

Dry foot thoroughly and then insert nail clippers under the nail border.

Clip out the ingrown toenail at a slight angle. Try not to cut your skin - keep the bottom of the clipper as close to the bottom of the nail plate as possible.

Grasp the corner and gently pull it out, once the nail is cut.

Wipe the area gently with an alcohol or a betadine-soaked gauze pad or cotton swab.

Soak your toe for 20 minutes each day in the Betadine solution for three days, or until soreness is gone. After soaking, dry gently and apply an adhesive bandage and some antibiotic cream.

Insert a sliver of cotton between the nail and the skin, for a few days. This will keep pressure off the toe. Remove the cotton as soon as the nail begins to grow out and away from the toe.

Wear loose shoes or go barefoot as much as possible, while your toenail is healing. Your goal is to eliminate any pressure from pushing against your toe.

See your podiatrist for chronic ingrown toenails. He may manipulate and elevate the end of your nail to prevent pressure on soft toe tissue, or correct the problem surgically.


Try not to leave nail fragments, as they'll probably become ingrown again. If there is bleeding, elevate the foot and apply an ice pack for 10 minutes with light pressure. If bleeding is excessive, consult a podiatrist.


If you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or circulatory problems, consult a physician before self-treating foot problems. If severe swelling, redness, heat and pain persist for two days or if you see a break in the skin and feel feverish, consult a physician. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

Things You'll Need

  • Children's Sandals
  • Men's Sandals
  • Women's Sandals
  • Isopropyl Alcohols
  • Adhesive Bandages
  • Antibiotic Creams
  • Cotton Balls And Swabs
  • Cuticle Creams
  • Exfoliating Cleanser
  • Gauze Pads Of Paper
  • Nail Brushes
  • Nail Buffers
  • Nail Cleaners
  • Nail Clippers
  • Nail Files
  • Pedicure Kits
  • Toe Separators
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