Infected Ingrown Toenail? Here’s What to Do

Ah, the joys of being human - we have toes that like to misbehave. Nothing screams 'ouchie' quite like an infected ingrown toenail. If you're one of the lucky few who've never had one, bless your heart and hide behind me when sociopaths come knocking.

Infected Ingrown Toenail? Here

For everyone else, let’s look at what you can do to get better without having people in hazmat suits prematurely declaring quarantine on your entire country.

Understanding the enemy

First things first - it helps to know what caused this conundrum in the first place. Your toenails are supposed grow out straight like a well-behaved child doing their homework. But sometimes they decide life would be more exciting by going left or right instead of straight ahead. That's where ingrowing happens. It sounds complicated but it really comes down two main things:

  • How you cut your nails
  • The shoes you wear

This cheerful duo leads us quite seamlessly into our next heading...

Nail-cutting tips from someone who knows nothing about feet

Cutting toenails is so easy; even toddlers can do it! Except err...nope, that's not true at all because for adults there are specific dos and don'ts painted across every YouTube tutorial on foot care out there.

Here are some tips:

1) Cut straight across (yes,straight-across!) 2) Only cut them when dry (not after showering/swimming) 3) Don’t pick at any weird bits - leave them alone!

If these sound obvious then congratulations! You’ve probably saved yourself a world of agony already.

Next up, shoes

Shoes: Friend or Foe?

Your favourite stilettos may make Audrey Hepburn proud but chances are they were stitched together by sadists whose only goal was watching poor souls suffer. Shoes play a big role in ingrown toenails because:

  • Tight fitting shoes can make your toes curl
  • High heels exert pressure on the front of your foot

This uncomfortable toe-squishery inevitably leads to ingrowing and before you know it, the pain’s knocking at your door like an IRS agent.

That's where wearing comfortable shoes comes into play! Sturdy, well-fitting shoes that don’t crush crucial blood vessels are what every self-respecting person who likes their feet should own.

You’re infected: Now what?

Infection happens when germs enter through an irritated area around/underneath the nail bed (also known as paronychia). This can be caused by:

  • Cutting nails too short
  • Pulling off hangnails

The result? The skin will become red, swollen and quite unpleasant. Sadly there is no magic cure that involves bopping yourself over the head with a textbook so let's move onto practical solutions now.

Let's get crackin'

We've covered how to avoid getting infected but if you're reading this then chances are someone somewhere didn't heed my advice or we wouldn't be here discussing whose fault this is - would we now?

Here are some practical tips for treating an infected[1] (yes,I-said-infected) ingrown toenail right at home:

Soak & Cover:

Soak your affected foot in warm water mixed with Epsom salts or other antiseptic solution for about 20 minutes twice daily until symptoms disappear. Then cover it up real good - keeping bacteria away from open wounds helps prevent worsening of infection!

OTC Meds:

For temporary relief try taking anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen [2](but-for-the-love-of-goodness-do-not-overdose!)


If symptoms persist beyond two weeks, book an appointment with your doctor who may recommend topical antibiotics or additional prescription medication.

What not to do:

Avoid walking barefoot, wearing tight shoes, and particularly... '''DO NOT!''''''(I-repeated-it-once-might-as-well-repeat-it-twice)''', attempt self-surgery. Tik-Tok should not have all the answers people...

I survived…now what?

Congratulations! You’ve done it - you've made it through a borderline traumatic event that nobody likes; your foot's on its way back to normality again. But before we go our separate ways for good, here are some tips to keep in mind going forward:

  • Wear comfortable (non-crushing!) footwear
  • Cut nails straight across whilst dry
  • Do not pick at any rough bits of skin

Remember prevention is always better than cure(s).


Ingrown toenails hurt like satan himself personally handcrafted them as punishment for when everyone refused his smoking cessation program. But there’s hope! If you follow these proper guidelines on cutting your nails correctly and selecting sensibly sturdy footwear, chances are great that they'll grow out safe and sound.

If worse comes to worst? No need for anxiety because now you can deal with infection like a boss!

Footnote: 1)[(hush-hush-whispers) but seriously though try rinsing out afterwards-if only so no one has reason... 2) [Oh dear Lawd my Grandma took six once…and she don’t care if god disapproves.]

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