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Care After Having an Ingrown Toenail Removed

author image Kimberly Wonderly
Kimberly Wonderly has a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science and has worked as a personal trainer for six years. Wonderly has also taken many child development classes, while running a daycare out of her home for three years. She wrote for the "Rocket" at Slippery Rock University for two years while attending college.
Care After Having an Ingrown Toenail Removed
Young woman soaking her feet in water Photo Credit KCHL/iStock/Getty Images

When an ingrown toenail causes you severe pain and oozes with pus, your doctor may remove part of the nail. Nail removal typically relieves the majority of the pain, but the toe will likely remain sore until it heals. Proper care after surgery will help the toe heal faster and decrease the chances of recurrence. Follow the specific instructions given to you by your surgeon.


Surgery reduces the pressure and irritation caused by an ingrown toenail. The severity and frequency of your ingrown toenail will determine if the surgeon will only remove a portion of your nail or remove a portion of your nail and the underlying tissue. If your ingrown toenail is a chronic issue, the surgeon may use a special medication called liquid phenol to prevent the regrowth of the removed portion of the nail. Severe cases may result in the removal of the complete toenail.

After-Surgery Care

The potential for infection and extreme pain after surgery decreases when you take care of your nail properly. Your surgeon may advise you to avoid placing weight on the affected toe and keep your foot elevated as much as possible for a few days after surgery. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be taken, if cleared by your doctor, to minimize the pain you feel. Wash your hands prior to performing any care for your affected toe to prevent the introduction of bacteria into the open wound. Keep your dressing clean and dry at all times. Wearing cotton socks and loose shoes for the first week or two after surgery may improve blood circulation to the wound and decrease pressure on the toe. Your doctor may also prescribe oral antibiotics or antibiotic ointment.

Activity Level

Normal activity levels may cause you pain and increase the swelling of the affected toe, if began too soon. In general, light activities can begin after a few days as the pain subsides. You surgeon may restrict running, jumping and more strenuous activities for a couple of weeks following surgery.

Regrowth Prevention

Help prevent the regrowth of your ingrown toenail by wearing shoes that allow plenty of room for your toes to move. Soaking your foot in warm water may soften the nail. A hard nail will have an easier time pressing into the skin, resulting in irritation and infection. Use a clean, sharp nail trimmer to cut your nails straight across the top. Nails tapered at the side or picked off have a greater chance of becoming ingrown.

When To Call A Doctor

Contact your doctor if you experience extreme pain, increasing redness or seeping of pus from the affected toe. Your doctor may determine you need antibiotics or additional surgery.

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