How Do I Know If I Have an Ingrown Toenail Infection?

An ingrown toenail occurs when one corner of the toenail grows into the skin. Because the ingrown nail cuts into the skin, an infection can occur at that site. An infected ingrown toenail will be sore, red and swollen, possibly with blood and/or pus along the side of it. An infected ingrown toenail is not something to ignore, as it can lead to some serious repercussions. According to the National Institutes Of Health when an infected ingrown toenail occurs in someone with diabetes, poor circulation or nerve damage, it MUST be treated by a podiatrist or other medical professional.

Ingrown toenail
Ingrown toenails can be uncomfortable. (Image: Winai_Tepsuttinun/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1


Look at the toenail corner for redness, swelling, an open or closed wound and blood and/or pus.

Step 2


Locate the ingrown nail, which is the nail spike that grows into the skin.

Step 3

Use the magnifying glass to view more closely. Use the tweezers to gently pull aside the nail border if necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Magnifying glass

  • Tweezers


Once the infected ingrown nail is identified, a choice must be made on how to treat it. According to the Mayo Clinic, a regular ingrown nail can be treated at home in most cases. In someone with no serious medical conditions, a mildly infected ingrown toenail, one that is only a bit red and swollen with no signs of blood or pus, can usually be taken care of at home by soaking in warm water, removing the nail spike from the corner and applying an antibiotic cream such as Neosporin. Moderate to severely infected ingrown toenails showing extreme tenderness, redness, blood or pus need to be seen and treated by a podiatrist or other medical professional.


According to the Mayo Clinic, all stages of an infected ingrown toenail in someone with diabetes, poor circulation or nerve damage to the feet or legs MUST be treated medically because the risk of serious complications is much greater.

No type of infected ingrown nail should be left untreated as the general rule is that it will worsen over time. The sooner it is identified and treated, the better.

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