Infected Ingrown Toenail Causes, Symptoms, Pictures and Treatment

The infected ingrown toenail is a common nail infection in the foot. Ingrown toenail infection can result in the swollen infected toe that hurts much. This can occur due to many reasons as far as toenail health is a concern.

According to the recent surveys conducted by the American nail Institute, about 40% of Americans are affected with infected ingrown fingernails or toenails in a year. Get an insight into meaning, causes, symptoms, pictures and effective home remedies for ingrown toenail infection.


The medical term for ingrown toenails is known as onychocryptosis. This is a condition that mainly affects runners. An infected ingrown toenail is the most painful experience when it occurs. Generally, normal ingrown toenail occurs when the nail grows and curls into the side of the skin.

According to the recent research done by doctors on WebMD, the big toe is highly susceptible to ingrown nail infection. The ingrown nail condition can cause discomfort while walking since the infection leads to redness, swelling, and pain.

However, this condition is common among many people and it can be treated using simple home remedies. In case the pain and the swelling due to infection keep on spreading, it is advisable to visit your doctor for treatment.


Can ingrown toenails get infected? Well, there are quite a number of factors that can result in an ingrown toenail infection. Most of these causes are quite common than the others. Here are some of the common causes:

Toenail injury

This is quite common among young males of the age between 15 and 30 years. It occurs when they stub the toes; drop a heavy item on the foot or kick a ball with barefoot.

All these items or object may cause a bruise on the ingrown nail. The injury may become severe due to the entry of germs causing nail infection.

Improper foot hygiene

Keeping dirty feet in shoes throughout the day may invite the entry of microorganism causing nail infection. This is common especially to those people with ingrown toenails since the dirt will get clogged into the sides of the ingrown nail. The moisture and dirt will create a good environment for bacteria to thrive leading to infection.

Wrong Footwear

Wearing ill-fitting footwear can result in excessive accumulation of sweat and the formation of ingrown toenails. The damp environment facilitates the growth of both fungi and bacteria that may lead to ingrown toenail infection.

Improper trimming

Trimming the nail too short is the most common cause of ingrown toenails. This will enhance the surrounding skin to fold over the toenail leading to an ingrown nail. The nail will push itself into the skin hence piercing it. The open wound later results in infection around the ingrown nail due to the entry of germs.


This is a condition where your toes have thick skin layers. The thick skin usually rubs inside the shoe due to friction and this may lead to ingrown toenails as well as toenail infection. The toenail infection happens due to the open wound formed as a result of friction.

Toenail fungus

This is common among people who walk barefoot in a damp area like swimming pools, gym shower or locker room. The toes will develop fungal infection since the environment is favorable leading also to the formation of ingrown toenails. The type of fungal infection is known as athlete’s foot.

Poor blood circulation

Patients with diabetes usually experience poor blood circulation in the body and this puts them at the risk of development ingrown toenails that are prone to infection. This happens since the toes are unable to get rid of waste products and acquire fresh nutrients.


According to Mayo clinics, an infected ingrown toenail is very painful and it usually gets worse in stages. Some of the common early stages symptoms of ingrown toenail infection include:

  • The skin around the ingrown toenail becomes tender, swollen and hard
  • Toe hurt when pressure is applied
  • The buildup of fluids around the toe

It is recommended to treat infected ingrown toenail during the early stages. However, here are some of the severe symptoms of ingrown toenail infection:

  • Red and swollen skin over the toes
  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Oozing pus
  • Overgrowth of skin around the toe


Generally, having ingrown toenail infection is the worst experience ever. This is because it causes much pain due to the swelling and redness around the toenail skin. This can result in discomfort when walking.

In the post, we have inserted infected ingrown toenail pictures that will help to identify the cause and how to manage the condition at home or seek medical treatment. The pictures can also help you analyze your symptoms well before seeking medical help.

Home Remedies

Treating ingrown toenail infection can be tricky to some extent. However, there are several ingrown toenail infection home remedies. These simple home remedies provide a platform on how to get rid of an infected ingrown toenail.

The remedies include:

Apple Cider Vinegar

According to the Mayo clinic, ACV is considered an excellent remedy for ingrown toenail infection due to its acidic property. The acidic property helps to restore back the nail pH and later soothe the discomfort caused by the infection.

It is also known to contain anti-fungal properties that help to get rid of pain and inflammation caused by toenail fungus. You can soak a cotton ball in a solution of apple cider vinegar and apply on the ingrown toenail that is infected. Allow the solution to stay a couple of times.

Tea Tree oil

According to doctors on Cleveland clinics, tea tree is the most effective natural remedy for those people with stubborn toenail infections. This is because it has both antifungal and antibacterial properties that help to get rid of any form of toenail infection.

You can apply the tea tree oil on the affected toenail using a cotton ball soaked in it twice a day. The ingrown toenail will have to grow out in order to completely get rid of the infection. In case of severe cases, consult your doctor for help.

Baking Soda

It contains alkaline property that helps to restore pH balance when it is applied on the affected foot. This basic condition creates an unfavorable condition for both fungi and bacteria to thrive. Therefore, this helps to get rid of any form of infection on the ingrown toenail.

You can mix a certain amount of baking soda with a small amount of water to form a paste. Use a clean cotton swab and apply the paste to the infected ingrown toenail. Allow the paste to stay for some minutes and then rinse with water. Pat the nail to dry and repeat the process.

Soak the affected foot in warm water

Soaking the affected foot in water helps to relieve the swelling and pain. It is recommended to soak the affected foot in warm water for about 30 minutes. For effective results, you can add Castile soap or Epsom salt to the faster healing process.

Pack the toes with dental floss

According to doctors on WebMD, it is advisable to tuck the infected ingrown toenail with small bits of cotton or waxed dental floss. This will encourage proper nail growth as well as get rid of the infection.

According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, you can also get rid of the condition by placing cotton under your nail to ease the pain and also allow harmful bacteria to disappear.

Wear comfortable shoes and socks

As mentioned earlier, wearing tight footwear can result in ingrown toenails. Therefore, to prevent the condition, it is recommended to wear good fitting shoes with socks. This will give the toes an ample space for breathing without being damp.

Further Readings:
1. Ingrown Hair on Penile Shaft.
2. Skin that Itch and Burn. 

Medical Treatment

In case the above-ingrown toenail infection home treatment does not work out, it is recommended to visit your doctor for medical treatment. Some of the common infected ingrown toenail treatment includes:

  • Application of antibiotic ointment

You can get this antibiotic ointment or cream over the counter to help enhance healing and reduce the chances of further infection. Use the instruction on the ointment then apply it on the affected toenail. Some of the common ointments include Neosporin, Polysporin, and Bactroban.

  • Prescription of oral antibiotics

You can also visit your doctor to get a prescription of oral antibiotics especially if you have a weak immune system to foster the healing process.

  • Consider nail removal

This should be done by a professional doctor since it may involve surgical removal of an ingrown toenail that is infected. This is usually the last resort and it is the most painful solution. It can also increase the chance of the toenail not grow back again.


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