What is an Ingrown Toenail?

Ingrown toenails are a common problem in which your toenail grows underneath the skin on the side of your toe. If an ingrown nail causes a break in the skin, bacteria may enter and cause an infection in the area, which is often marked by drainage and a foul odor. However, even if the toe is not painful, red, swollen or warm, a nail that curves downward into the skin can progress to an infection. Ingrown toenails commonly only affect on the big toe, but can occur on any of the toes.

In this video, Dr. Jeffrey Flash describes what an ingrown toenail is and why they occur. Some can be caused by wearing shoes that are too short and tight. Another cause is improper cutting of the toenails – cutting them too short or cutting at an improper angle. The most common reason for an ingrown toenail is genetics.

Common Causes of ingrown toenails

  • Cutting nails the wrong way
  • Trauma
  • Footwear that compresses toes
  • Heredity
  • Fungal infections
  • Diabetes or other conditions that causes fluid retention
  • Medications that cause fluid retention
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Genetics

Ingrown Toenail Treatment

Your podiatrist will examine your toes and recommend a treatment plan based on how severe the damage is, and whether or not you still have a healthy toenail. After administering local anesthesia to keep you comfortable, a short surgical procedure in our office will ease the pain. Your physician can remove a part of the nail side border or if you have a chronically ingrown toenail, the entire nail may need to be removed. If this is necessary, your nail will grow back. After the nail procedure, a bandage is applied. Most people experience very little pain after surgery and may resume normal activity the next day. If an infection was present at the time of surgery, your podiatrist may prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic to ensure optimal healing.


  • Proper trimming. Cut toenails in a fairly straight line, and do not cut them too short.
  • Well-fitting shoes. Do not wear shoes that are too short or tight in the toe area.
  • If you have diabetes, consider letting a podiatrist or other health professional trim your nails.

An ingrown toenail can go from being a mild annoyance to serious foot health problems very quickly. If you have symptoms like pain, swelling and redness, it’s important that you seek treatment before the toe grows badly infected. The experts at American Foot & Leg Specialists offer customized ingrown toenail solutions, including an in-office procedure for removal if you need it. Call us today to schedule an appointment at one of our four convenient locations in the south Atlanta, GA area.

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American Foot and Leg Specialists draws patients from all over the Atlanta area. Our 4 locations in Stockbridge, Forest Park, Fayetteville, and Locust Grove, are just short drive from Midtown, Buckhead, East Point, College Park, Riverdale, Jonesboro, Irondale, McDonough, and Peachtree City. Schedule a consultation today to eliminate your foot and ankle problems.