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Ingrown Nail


An ingrown nail is when the edge of your fingernail or toenail grows into the skin next to it.



  • Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain. You can buy acetaminophen without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or podiatrist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Soak and lift your nail: Soak your ingrown nail in water for 20 minutes, 2 times each day. Then gently lift the edge of the ingrown nail away from the skin. Wedge a small piece of cotton or gauze under the corner of the nail. This may help keep the nail from growing into the skin.
  • Wear shoes and socks that fit well: Make sure they are not too tight. You may need to wear a shoe with the toe cut out, such as sandals, until your ingrown toenail heals. Do not wear shoes that have pointed toes or heels that are more than 2 inches high. Do not wear tight hosiery or socks. Wear socks, such as cotton-acrylic blends, that pull moisture away from your feet.
  • Carefully trim your nails: Cut your nails straight across. Do not cut them too short. Lightly file the nail corners if you have sharp edges. Do not round your nails. Do not rip or tear off the tips of your nails. This may cause your nail edge to grow into the skin. Use clippers, not nail scissors.
  • Keep your nails clean and dry: Wash your hands and feet with soap and water. Pat dry with a clean towel. Dry in between each toe. Do not put lotion between your toes.
  • Inspect your nails daily: Look for signs of an ingrown nail. Manage problems early so the nail does not become infected.

Contact your primary healthcare provider or podiatrist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have pus under the cuticle (the skin around the nail).
  • The skin around your nail becomes red, painful, and swollen.
  • Your ingrown nail is not better in 7 days.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have a red streak running up your leg or arm.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Ingrown Nail (Discharge Care)

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