Demystifying Ingrown Toenail Removal: A Comprehensive Guide

An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge or corner of a toenail grows into the adjacent skin, leading to pain, redness, swelling, and potential infection. Contributing factors include improper nail trimming, tight footwear, trauma, genetic predisposition, and underlying medical conditions such as fungal infections or nail abnormalities.

When Is Removal Necessary?

While mild cases of ingrown toenails may respond to home remedies such as warm soaks and proper nail trimming, severe or recurrent cases often require professional treatment. Removal may be recommended if:

  • The ingrown toenail is causing persistent pain or discomfort.
  • The ingrown toenail is accompanied by signs of infection, such as pus or drainage.
  • Conservative treatments have been unsuccessful in alleviating symptoms.
  • The ingrown toenail recurs frequently despite attempts to prevent it.

Types of Ingrown Toenail Removal

  1. Partial Nail Avulsion: This common procedure involves removing a portion of the affected toenail, usually the problematic edge or corner. After numbing the toe with a local anesthetic, the healthcare provider carefully trims or lifts the ingrown portion of the nail using specialized instruments.
  2. Total Nail Avulsion: In more severe cases or when the ingrown toenail recurs frequently, a total nail avulsion may be recommended. This procedure involves removing the entire toenail, allowing the affected area to heal and preventing future ingrowth.

The Removal Procedure

  1. Preparation: Before the procedure, the healthcare provider will review your medical history and assess the severity of the ingrown toenail. They may also administer a local anesthetic to numb the toe and minimize discomfort during the procedure.
  2. Nail Removal: Using sterile instruments, the healthcare provider will carefully trim or lift the ingrown portion of the toenail. In some cases, a chemical called phenol may be applied to the nail bed to prevent regrowth of the ingrown portion.
  3. Post-Procedure Care: After the ingrown toenail removal, the toe may be bandaged, and specific post-procedure instructions will be provided. These may include keeping the toe clean and dry, applying topical antibiotics, and wearing open-toed shoes to promote healing.

 Demystifying Ingrown Toenail Removal: A Comprehensive Guide

Recovery and Aftercare

  • It’s normal to experience mild discomfort, swelling, and drainage in the days following ingrown toenail removal. Over-the-counter pain relievers and cold compresses can help alleviate these symptoms.
  • Keep the toe clean and dry to prevent infection. Avoid soaking the foot in water for prolonged periods, and change dressings regularly.
  • Follow any instructions provided by your healthcare provider regarding wound care, activity restrictions, and follow-up appointments.
  • It may take several weeks for the toe to fully heal, during which time you should avoid activities that put undue pressure on the affected area.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While ingrown toenail removal is generally safe and effective, it’s essential to monitor the toe for signs of complications, including:

  • Excessive bleeding or drainage from the surgical site.
  • Persistent pain, redness, or swelling that worsens over time.
  • Signs of infection, such as increased warmth, redness, or pus.
  • Difficulty walking or performing daily activities due to pain or discomfort.

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider promptly for further evaluation and treatment.


Ingrown toenail removal is a common procedure performed to alleviate pain, discomfort, and potential complications associated with ingrown toenails. Whether partial or total nail avulsion is required, the goal is to safely and effectively address the underlying problem while promoting healing and preventing recurrence. By understanding the procedure, adhering to post-treatment care instructions, and seeking prompt medical attention if needed, you can ensure a smooth recovery and enjoy improved foot health in the long run.

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