Ingrown Toenails: To Cut Or Not To Cut

November 15th, 2020

Wrriten by Lauren Reed, DPM

Foot surgery: Complications arising from operations

What is an ingrown toenail?

An ingrown toenail is a painful condition where the toenail grows into the side of the toe, mainly into the flesh. It usually hurts when pressed on and sometimes shows up with redness and swelling such as an infection.

Should you cut out an ingrown toenail at HOME?

No. There are many reasons you should see a professional for this, the primary reason is infection. Podiatrists are able to sterilize instruments and prescribe antibiotics if there is a chance of infection at the toe.

At our office we see many patients for this problem, we usually perform what is called a Nail Avulsion. This means removal of the affected portion of the toenail and any soft tissue that is in the way of the toenail growing out, correcting the problem and relieving the pain.

How are ingrown toenails removed in OUR OFFICE?

First, the toe is numbed with greatest precision. We use our "painless" injection techniques to help make the injection as painless as possible. Some patients experience some pressure but it is tolerable.  We recommend you bring your phone or ipad to play on to distract you.

Following this, the doctor makes a small cut in the border of the toenail that is causing the redness and irritation. The cut is extended to remove the toenail at the root. It is then removed and the proud flesh removed as well. The root of the toenail is important to remove. If this is not removed or removed partially, there will be more redness and irritation as the toenail grows back.

The border of the toenail will grow back but most often the ingrown toenail will not return. If it does return, or if you have had many ingrown toenails, the doctor may recommend putting a chemical at the root to stop the growth of the border of the toenail.

How to treat an ingrown toenail at home?

After the procedure, and many times prior to the procedure, we will recommend soaking the foot in luke warm water with epson salts added. This allows bacteria and toe jam to come out from under the nail plate without have to forcefully remove it.

You should also keep the toenail covered with a latex free cloth band-aid and neosporin cream. This helps soften the ingrown toenail and often allows it to grow out. If the redness and irritation are not improving, you need to see a medical professional such as a podiatrist immediately.


Dr. Lauren Reed is a specialized doctor in the treatment of foot and ankle ailments. She is one of the greatest in her treatment of ingrown toenails and making them as painless as possible, according to many. Dr. Lauren began her medical training at Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine in Pennsylvania in 2008. She completed her training on the Main Line at Bryn Mawr Residency program. Dr. Lauren is also board certified in Foot Surgery by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. She specializes in foot ulcerations, diabetic foot wounds, trauma to the foot and ankle, and many other foot problems.