The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Don’t Let Ingrown Toenails Get You Down This Spring!

Posted by on Friday, May 1st, 2015


Though the weather is barely breaking 60 degrees, we are getting close to at least imagining those warm, sunny days where it seems most prudent to wear sandals. Ingrown toenails are one foot-related issue that can really dampen your springtime fun. Not only do they look unsightly in sandals, but they are also downright painful! When the corners of the nails bite into the skin, redness, inflammation and purulence ensue. No one wants to kick off spring with an infection like that! Worse yet, ingrown toenails can quickly spiral into a limb-threatening condition for those with vascular disease, neuropathy or diabetes. The board-certified podiatrists from The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC discuss how to treat and prevent this common foot affliction.

ingrown toenail ny
Ingrown toenails can be a portal into the body for harmful microbes, so do not delay in seeking professional care from a podiatrist! Image Source:

What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

To know how to prevent ingrown toenails, we must first consider what causes them. The most common reasons include:

Toenail Trauma: Doors scraping over toenails, dropped items falling on them, athletic injuries, a runner over-training in ill-fitting shoes or a stubbed toe from walking barefoot are all common culprits.

What To Do: While some accidents are unavoidable, wearing well-fitting shoes can prevent a lot of damage.

Improper Cutting: Do you round the edges of your toenails when you clip? Do you push down the cuticles? Do you cut in a v-shape pattern? Do you tend to cut your nails a little bit too short? These habits can all lead to ingrown nails.

What To Do: Be careful to trim straight across the nail, and not too low!

Shoe Choice: Wearing shoes that crowd the toenails may cause them to develop abnormally.

What To Do: Give up those pointy-toed high heels! Look for shoes with roomier toe-boxes instead (like we said last week: if Victoria Beckham can stomach wearing uglier shoes, then so can you).

Genetics: Unfortunately, the cause of many ingrown nails is simply genetics, so for some people, this is just the natural way your toenails will grow.

What To Do: A NY podiatrist can perform a simple in-office procedure that removes the offending portion of the nail.

Ingrown Toenail First Aid

The Mayo Clinic recommends taking the following steps for ingrown toenail home treatment:

  • Soak your feet in warm water for 15-20 minutes, up to four times a day to relieve swelling and tenderness
  • Place cotton or waxed dental floss under the ingrown nail edge to encourage it to grow above the skin
  • Apply antibiotic ointment where it is red and tender, and place a bandage over the area
  • Choose open-toed shoes or sandals while your toe recuperates
  • Take Tylenol, Advil or Aleve to ease the pain

Most importantly, call a podiatrist to address the cause! DO NOT attempt “bathroom surgery” or try to dig the nail out yourself!

Advanced Ingrown Toenail Treatment In NYC

What can a podiatrist do for an ingrown toenail? The method of treatment depends on the severity of your condition, but we can:

  • Treat improper growth by numbing the foot, removing the offending spike of nail and covering it with an antiseptic dressing
  • Heal acute pain with a local anesthetic, ointment, and/or prescription medication
  • Stop chronic issues by removing a little bit more of the nail or performing partial nail avulsion to discourage improper growth
  • Cure infection by prescribing antibiotics
  • Remove debris like a corn or callus, which could be causing pressure and unusual growing patterns
  • Educating patients on how to trim and file the nail to reduce pain and the risk of ingrown nails in the future

If you live in the New York City / White Plains area, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine to have your ingrown toenail addressed so you can enjoy all your favorite summer footwear.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.