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How to Treat an Ingrown Fingernail
Ingrown fingernails occur when the edge of a fingernail grows into the skin surrounding it. The usual cause of ingrown fingernails is improper trimming of the nail, although nail biting or an injury to the hand that tears the nail can be the culprit too 1. And sometimes the natural shape or thickness of the nail can make you more susceptible to ingrown nails 1. Whatever the cause, they range from annoying to excruciatingly painful, and the American Academy of Dermatology warns an ingrown nail can become infected if left untreated 12.
Soak the finger in warm water two or three times a day for 15 to 20 minutes each day to reduce swelling. Be sure to dry the area thoroughly after soaking, since leaving the area wet could allow the nail to dig in more deeply.
How to Flatten a Curved Toenail
Wedge a small piece of cotton under the edge of the nail immediately after soaking to lift it away from the skin. Continue this for a few days to see if it helps. Fingernails grow an average of 2 to 3 mm each month, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, so keeping the nail lifted away should allow it to grow past the skin fairly quickly 2.
Take over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen for the pain if necessary, and apply antibiotic cream to help fight infection. However, the Mayo Clinic warns that pus or redness may mean an infection has already taken hold; if this occurs, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Go to the doctor if the nail shows no signs of improvement after three or four days of home treatment, even if there is no visible sign of infection. A doctor has methods for treating an ingrown fingernail that can range from trimming away the ingrown part of the nail to removal of an entire portion of the nail and the nail bed 1.
Keep your fingernails trimmed straight across, rather than curved, to help prevent ingrown nails.
Poor hygiene can also lead to ingrown nails, so keep your nails clean.
If you are diabetic, do not attempt home treatment—always call your doctor.
How to Flatten a Curved Toenail
What to Do for a Ripped-Loose Fingernail?
How to Care for the Skin Once a Nail Falls Off
How to Cure an Ingrown Toenail
How to Treat Lifted Toenails
How to Get Rid of Excess Cuticles on the Toe
How to Remove a Toenail
How to Improve Brittle Toenails
How to Get Toenail Fungus to Grow Out
- Drugs.com: Ingrown Nail
- American Academy of Dermatology: Nail Fungus & Nail Health
- Mayo Clinic: Ingrown Toenails
- Dąbrowski M, Litowińska A. Recurrence and satisfaction with sutured surgical treatment of an ingrown toenail. Ann Med Surg (Lond). 2020 Jun 26;56:152-160. doi: 10.1016/j.amsu.2020.06.029. PMID: 32637092; PMCID: PMC7330155.
- Haneke E. Controversies in the treatment of ingrown nails. Dermatol Res Pract. 2012;2012:783924. doi: 10.1155/2012/783924. PMID: 22675345; PMCID: PMC3362847.
- Miquelão Canuto Verussa MJ, Biselli Boarini LM, Gabbi T. "Super U" technique for ingrown nails: a tertiary hospital experience between 2011 and 2018. Int J Dermatol. 2019 Oct 24. doi: 10.1111/ijd.14694. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 31650538.
- Arica IE, Bostanci S, Kocyigit P, Arica DA. Clinical and sociodemographic characteristics of patients with ingrown nails. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2019 May;109(3):201-206. doi: 10.7547/17-023. PMID: 31268783.
- Mayeaux EJ Jr, Carter C, Murphy TE. Ingrown toenail management. Am Fam Physician. 2019 Aug 1;100(3):158-164. PMID: 31361106.
- Sánchez LC, Zalacaín-Vicuña AJ. Onychoplasty with 1064-nm Laser: Matrixectomy for Treatment of Ingrown Toenails. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2019 Sep;109(5):401-406. doi: 10.7547/17-008. PMID: 31599675.
- Muriel-Sánchez JM, Becerro-de-Bengoa-Vallejo R, Montaño-Jiménez P, Coheña-Jiménez M. The treatment of ingrown nail: Chemical matricectomy with phenol versus aesthetic reconstruction. A single blinded randomized clinical trial. J Clin Med. 2020 Mar 20;9(3):845. doi: 10.3390/jcm9030845. PMID: 32244966; PMCID: PMC7141528.
- American Academy of Family Physicians. Ingrown toenails. January 4, 2018.
Liz Turner has been writing since 1994. Her work has been published in several technology publications and local newspapers, as well as on eHow and LIVESTRONG.COM. She has writing and editing experience in technology, business, children's issues, travel, animal care, beauty, health and fitness topics. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Central Florida.