Ingrown Toenail Pain

Shahid Iquebal   by Shahid Iquebal, M.Pharm.    Last updated on March 4, 2019,

ingrown toenail pain

What is ingrown toenail and pain due to it?

An ingrown toenail also known as onychocryptosis happens when the side edges or corner of your toenail grows into the surrounding skin. As the nail continues to grow it may cause pain, redness, and swelling. If it breaks the skin, bacteria may enter into it and make the condition worse by causing an infection. The prevalence of this condition is very common and almost similar in both men and women.

The pain caused by an ingrown toenail can be aggravating. Someone who ever had it might describe it as an unbearable kind of pain. Since your toes will be in continuous use because you will have to keep moving, it makes the ingrown toenail pain more annoying. Your toes will be constantly used and knocked which can provoke your nail further and make the problem long lasting. If left untreated, this painful condition can soon get infected.

What can you do for ingrown toenail pain? What are the remedies of ingrown toenail pain?

To get relief from ingrown toenail pain, you may treat your ingrown toenail at home provided they have no signs and symptoms of any infection. Some common ingrown toenail remedies are the following which can help you to ease your pain.

Soak in warm and soapy water

Soaking your affected foot in warm, soapy water might help you in reducing swelling and ease you of pain. You can do this for three times a day for 15-20 minutes at a time. Addition of Epsom salt into the water may give you additional relief from the pain.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is folk remedy and believed to have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and pain-relieving abilities although scientific evidence for this is lacking.

To try this remedy, soak your affected foot for up to 20 minutes in a basin of warm water combined with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. You should repeat it daily. You should remember to dry your foot thoroughly after soaking.

Antibiotic ointment

You can use over-the-counter antibiotic ointment or cream. It is helpful to promote healing and also reduce the risk of infection. You should apply the ointment to the affected toenail usually up to three times daily. You should read the manufacturer’s instructions before applying it. Make sure to bandage the toenail after application.

Over the counter pain reliever

Your ingrown toenail pain may get relieved by Acetaminophen. It doesn’t have any marked side effects unless you take it in more than prescribed quantity or with alcohol.

If your ingrown nail is having swelling also along with pain, ibuprofen may be a better option because it relieves both pain and swelling. Some common side effects of ibuprofen include upset stomach, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. You should take over the counter pain relievers after consultation with your doctor.

Toe protector


A toe protector can help you to provide a cushioning barrier for your ingrown toenails. It is available as a ring that fits around the affected area or in a ring that covers up your entire toe. Some brands of toe protectors come with medicated gels which help in softening of toenails for easy trimming.

Toe brace

Toe braces are meant to shield your skin from a sharp, ingrown nail and lift the nail edges as your nail grows and is usually made of thin, adhesive and composite material that are glued to the top of your toe.

Wear comfortable shoes and socks

Too tight shoes and socks that can crowd your toes are considered to be a leading cause of ingrown toenails. You should use such shoes and socks that fit well but still leave some space for your toe bed to prevent an ingrown toenail from developing or worsening. You should avoid wearing shoes or sandals to limit the pressure on your toenails during your healing process.

Pack the area with dental floss or cotton

Some medical groups suggest tucking small bits of cotton or waxed dental floss under the edge of an ingrown toenail to encourage proper nail growth. However, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, placing cotton under your nail may increase pain and allow harmful bacteria to thrive. Soaking the cotton or floss in alcohol before application may help reduce this risk.

Essential oils

You can also apply a blend of essential oil with carrier oil such as coconut oil on the affected area to help reduce the pain and inflammation. Example of such oils includes tea tree oil, clove, rosemary, Cyprus and lavender.

Nail removal

Partial or full removal of the nail may be necessary if an ingrown toenail doesn’t improve with home remedies.

To prevent your ingrown toenail pain, you should prevent ingrown toenail in the first place.

Here are some tips you can follow to prevent ingrown toenail.

  • You should cut your nail straight across and avoid cutting nails too short or unevenly at the corners
  • Make sure you wear shoes and sock which fit properly and you should be able to wiggle your toes easily in your shoes
  • Avoid trauma to the toe area