Symptoms and causes

Symptoms

Ingrown toenail symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness in your toe along one or both sides of the nail
  • Redness around your toenail
  • Swelling of your toe around the nail
  • Infection of the tissue around your toenail

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you:

  • Experience severe discomfort in your toe or pus or redness that seems to be spreading
  • Have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow to your feet and you experience any foot sore or infection

Causes

Common ingrown toenail causes include:

  • Wearing shoes that crowd your toenails
  • Cutting your toenails too short or not straight across
  • Injuring your toenail
  • Having unusually curved toenails

Complications

Left untreated or undetected, an ingrown toenail can infect the underlying bone and lead to a serious bone infection.

Complications can be especially severe if you have diabetes, which can cause poor blood flow and damage nerves in your feet. So a minor foot injury — a cut, scrape, corn, callus or ingrown toenail — may not heal properly and become infected. A difficult-to-heal open sore (foot ulcer) may require surgery to prevent the decay and death of tissue (gangrene). Gangrene results from an interruption in blood flow to an area of your body.