You usually get an ingrown toenail on your big toe. But you can get them on any toe.
Your toe can also get infected.
Signs of an infected toe include:
- pus coming out of it
- you feel hot or shivery
If you go to a GP, they'll usually suggest you try these things first.
- soak your foot in warm water 3 to 4 times a day for a few days – this softens the skin around your toe and stops the nail growing into it
- keep your foot dry for the rest of the day
- wear wide, comfortable shoes or sandals
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease the pain
- do not cut your toenail – leave it to grow out
- do not pick at your toe or toenail
- do not wear tight, pointy shoes
You can ask a pharmacist about:
- treatments to help ease the pain and prevent an infection
- whether you need to see a GP
See a GP if:
- treating it at home is not helping
- your toe is very painful and swollen with pus coming out of it
- your temperature is very high or you feel hot or shivery
- you have diabetes – foot problems can be more serious if you have diabetes
A GP can:
- check your toe to see if it's an ingrown toenail
- give you antibiotics if your toenail is infected
If you have a badly ingrown toenail, they may refer you to a foot specialist.
Treatment from a foot specialist
A foot specialist (podiatrist) may offer further treatments, such as:
- cutting away part of the nail
- removing the whole nail
You'll have an injection of local anaesthetic to numb your toe when this is done.
Referral to a podiatrist on the NHS may not be available to everyone and waiting times can be long. You can pay to see a podiatrist privately.
How to prevent ingrown toenails
To help stop ingrown toenails:
- do not cut your toenails too short
- cut straight across the nail, not the edges
- do not wear shoes that are too tight or do not fit properly