How to Treat the Pain From an Ingrown Toenail

Updated April 17, 2017

An ingrown toenail is a nail that grows into the flesh of your toe. Some of the causes of ingrown toenails are nails that are too big, you suffer from arthritis, have toes that curl or your nail has suffered trauma recently. Ingrown toenails can cause pain, swelling and unpleasant warmth on one or both sides of the nail. An ingrown toenail can even lead to infection if left untreated for an extended amount of time.

Soak your feet in warm saltwater to relieve some of the pain. Do this multiple times in one day, taking 15 minutes for each soaking. Dry your feet thoroughly after soaking with a clean towel.

Purchase an over-the-counter medicine that relieves pain. Use reputable and effective medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Ask the pharmacist if he has any suggestions on what you should use.

Wear comfortable shoes that give your feet tons of space. Shoes that pinch will irritate your ingrown toenail and will make it even more painful. Choose shoes made out of soft fabrics instead of leather. Wear sandals as often as possible.

Trim your nails straight across using nail clippers. Ensure that you don't trim your nails too short. Use a nail file to lift the nail gently. Get a small piece of cotton and flatten it. Raise the corner of your ingrown toenail slightly. There should now be a small space between the ingrown toenail and your skin. Slip the cotton into the space and let go of the toenail. The cotton should prevent the toenail from growing into your skin. Replace the cotton at least once a day to ward against infections.

Wrap the toe with a Band-Aid or cloth to serve as protection from trauma. Trauma causes and worsens ingrown toenails.

Buy a topical cream such as campho-phenique pain reliever. Get some antibiotic ointment and apply it on the irritated area to prevent infection.


If symptoms worsen or the ingrown nail keeps coming back, schedule an appointment to see a podiatrist.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton
  • Over-the-counter medicine
  • Warm saltwater
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