Podiatrist (Foot and Ankle Specialist) Questions Ingrown Toenail

I think I have an ingrown toenail. What does this usually look like?

What does an ingrown toenail look like? My big toe has been hurting me a lot lately, and it looks like I have one, but I can't really be too sure.

9 Answers

When a toenail is ingrown, it is curved and grows into the skin, usually at the nail borders (the sides of the nail). This digging in of the nail irritates the skin, often creating pain, redness, swelling, and warmth in the toe. If an ingrown nail causes a break in the skin, bacteria may enter and cause an infection in the area, which is often marked by drainage and a foul odor. However, even if the toe is not painful, red, swollen or warm, a nail that curves downward into the skin can progress to an infection. Please visit a podiatrist near your home for your ingrown nail examination and treatment.
Typical findings include, swelling, redness, and tenderness to touch. The area around the nail may appear puffy. Sometimes, drainage that is red or yellow can also be present.
Pain alongside the nail increased with pressure, sometimes accompanied by redness, swelling, and/or drainage.
Hello and thanks for your question. An ingrown nail will typically present as redness, swelling, and pain along the nail fold. Sometimes if the infection has progressed, there will be drainage from the affected side of the nail. For patients with an infected ingrown nail or paronychia, I recommend a quick in-office procedure.

I wish you luck and God bless.
Most likely, you probably have one and there’re ways to make sure it never comes back. Have an X-ray to make sure there is no underlying bone spur. Until your appointment, soak in epsom salt and apply bacitracin.
Ingrown toenail can have many different appearances. Sometimes there is redness, swelling, and even drainage. Sometimes you can palpate the portion of the nail that is ingrowing and when you push on it causes pain.

Jonathan M. Kletz, DPM


An ingrown nail is the result of a nail invading the skin of the toes. It usually occurs on the big toe nails. Ingrown nails can be very painful, become swollen, red and infected. It is best to seek medical attention form a podiatrist. Trying to remove it your self can make it worse.
Ingrown toenails are an incurvation of a nail corner resulting in local pain and inflammation of the surrounding skin. These frequently affect the great toe. If allowed to persist they can become locally infected with increasing redness, drainage and exuberant granulation tissue. In the early stages these can frequently be managed with local medical care hi performance of warm water baths with antibacterial soap or Epsom salts. If permitted to advance and not getting better oftentimes these do require surgical removal. On occasion systemic antibiotics are also given by mouth.
Ingrown toenails don’t necessarily have a “look.” If the toe is painful surrounding the border of the nail, especially if you press it, it is an ingrown nail. In the early stages the skin surrounding the nail looks normal. The longer the nail remains in the skin you can begin to see redness, warmth, swelling, and even pus formation. The sooner the ingrown nail is taken out you can avoid antibiotic use for an infection that can form. Don’t try to perform the ingrown removal yourself. This can make the situation worse. Go to a local Podiatrist.