Dealing with Ingrown Fingernails: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

An ingrown fingernail is a common condition that occurs when the corner or edge of a fingernail grows into the skin. This can cause pain, redness, swelling, and sometimes bleeding. Ingrown fingernails are most common on the big toe, but they can also occur on the fingernails.

Having an ingrown fingernail can be a painful and frustrating experience. It occurs when the nail grows into the surrounding skin, leading to discomfort, redness, and swelling. In this blog, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and effective treatment options for ingrown fingernails.

Causes of Ingrown Fingernails

The following are some of the causes of ingrown fingernails:

  • Improper nail trimming: Cutting your nails too short or in a curved shape can cause the nail to grow into the skin.
  • Wearing tight shoes: Shoes that are too tight can put pressure on the nails, causing them to grow into the skin.
  • Naturally curved nails: Some people have nails that are naturally curved, which can make them more likely to grow into the skin.
  • Injury to the nail bed: An injury to the nail bed, such as from stubbing your toe, can cause the nail to grow into the skin.
  • Fungal infection: A fungal infection can weaken the nail and make it more likely to grow into the skin.
  • Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a skin condition that can cause the nails to become thick and brittle, making them more likely to grow into the skin.

If you have any of the above risk factors, you may be more likely to develop an ingrown fingernail. If you experience pain, redness, or swelling around your nails, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any other underlying conditions.

Recognizing the Symptoms

When a fingernail curves into the skin at its corner or side, it is called an ingrown fingernail. This may result in discomfort, discoloration, and even infection. The big toe is the most typical site for an ingrown fingernail, although any finger may be affected.

Here are some of the symptoms of an ingrown fingernail:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • Pus or fluid buildup
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Difficulty walking or wearing shoes

If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor or podiatrist. They can diagnose the problem and recommend treatment.

Related: How to Identify and Treat Nail Pitting: A Comprehensive Guide

How to treat Ingrown Fingernails?

There are a few things you can do to treat an ingrown fingernail:

  • Soaking: Soaking the affected finger in warm water for 15-20 minutes can help to soften the nail and relieve pain.
  • Applying a warm compress: Applying a warm compress to the affected area can also help to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Using an antibiotic ointment: Applying an antibiotic ointment to the affected area can help to prevent infection.
  • Wearing loose-fitting shoes: Wearing loose-fitting shoes can help to reduce pressure on the affected area and relieve pain.
  • Seeing a doctor: If your ingrown fingernail is severe or does not respond to home treatment, you may need to see a doctor. A doctor may be able to remove part of the nail or prescribe antibiotics to treat an infection.

Prevention of Ingrown Fingernails

There are a number of things you can do to prevent ingrown fingernails. These include:

  • Cut your nails straight across.
  • Do not cut your nails too short.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly.
  • File the edges of your nails smoothly.
  • Keep your nails clean and dry.
  • See a doctor if you have a history of ingrown fingernails.

By following these tips, you can help prevent ingrown fingernails and keep your nails healthy.

When to Seek Medical Help

  • If the symptoms worsen or do not improve after home treatment.
  • If there is severe pain, excessive swelling, or signs of infection.
  • If you have a chronic medical condition or compromised immune system.
  • If you are unable to perform self-care or experience recurrent ingrown nails.

Professional Treatment Options

  • Partial or total removal of the ingrown nail by a healthcare professional.
  • Antibiotic treatment for infected ingrown nails.
  • Surgical procedures for severe or recurring cases.


Ingrown fingernails can be a bothersome condition, but with proper care and treatment, they can be effectively managed. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and adopting appropriate self-care practices, you can alleviate discomfort and prevent future occurrences.

If the problem persists or worsens, consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment. Remember, healthy nails contribute to overall hand health and well-being.

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