An ingrown toenail can make each step more painful than the next. If you experience pain and redness at the toe, taking steps to encourage normal toenail growth can reduce symptoms. Do not leave untreated--ingrown toenails can lead to infection and will continue to grow abnormally without intervention.
Your toenail grows from the base of your toenail, where the germinal matrix produces new nail cell tissues, according to eOrthopod. The nail's attachment points are at the toenail's base and on the sides, known as the nail groove. The nail groove is where the toenail meets the skin of the toe. When an ingrown toenail occurs, the toenail can grow into your skin. If the ingrown toenail is not too severe, you can treat it at home to encourage normal nail growth.
In order to grow out your ingrown toenail, identify and remedy the ingrown toenail's cause. Most ingrown toenails grow due to ill-fitting shoes that press too tightly against the nail groove, wearing it down, according to eOrthopod. Trimming the toenails too short, particularly on the sides, can contribute to ingrown toenails. This leads to symptoms such as pain, redness and in some instances, pus that drains from the toe.
Facilitating normal toenail growth can help to prevent ingrown toenails. Cut your toenails straight across, not curved at the sides or too short, according to PeaceHealth, a hospital system based in the Pacific Northwest. Wear comfortable shoes that do not pinch your toes. Because toe stubbing or injury also can cause an ingrown toenail, wear proper footwear at work or when playing sports.
Treating your ingrown toenail at home can help it to grow out normally, which can help if you have cut the nail too short. Soak your feet in warm water three times per day for a period of 15 to 20 minutes to reduce painful symptoms, according to MayoClinic.com. After soaking the feet, place a cotton pad or portion of cotton ball under the edge of the ingrown toenail portion. This encourages the toenail to grow more normally. Leave under the toenail, and switch the cotton out after each foot soak. Apply a topical antibiotic ointment to the red area to reduce inflammation.
In some instances, your ingrown toenail may not grow normally with at-home intervention and may become infected. Your physician may remove a portion of the ingrown toenail and drain any pus associated with infection, according to KidsHealth from Nemours. However, if your ingrown toenail continues to grow incorrectly, your physician may have to use more severe measures, such as removing a portion or all of the toenail.