Dealing with Ingrown Toenails

Ouch! At Benenati Foot & Ankle Care Centers, we know that there are few common podiatric conditions more painful than an ingrown toenail. The pain is caused by the nail growing downward and into the skin surrounding the nail border. As it digs into the skin it causes major inflammation, tenderness, swelling, and pain. If it actually punctures the skin, there is also the risk of infection.

What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

By far the most common cause is improper trimming of the nails. Toenails should always be cut straight across with no rounded edges that will encourage the nail to grow back toward the nail bed. The nails should also not be cut too short so that the edges of the skin surrounding the nail can overlap it. Other possible causes of ingrown nails include:

  • Footwear that’s too tight. Wearing shoes and/or socks that are too small can squeeze the toes up against one another and can result in ingrown nails.
  • Trauma such as a heavy object falling on your toe or stubbing it really badly.
  • Other nail conditions like nail fungus.
  • Heredity—in some cases the tendency for ingrown nails can be genetic.


You can try soaking your foot in warm, soapy water several times a day and trying to gently massage the nail out of the skin. However, you should never attempt to dig it out with a sharp object. This can lead to a worse injury and infection. If your ingrown nail does not resolve with soaking, contact our Macomb (586) 416-3668, St. Clair Shores (586) 779-6140 or Warren (586) 756-3338 office for an appointment. Our podiatrists Dr. Anthony Benenati, Dr. Neil Shaw, and Dr. Adam Thompson will treat your ingrown toenail. For some patients who experience a recurring ingrown toenail, the foot doctor may perform a simple surgical procedure in the office to eliminate the problem.

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