Signs Your Ingrown Toenail Is Infected

Oct 01, 2023
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Ingrown toenails cause redness, swelling, and pain. They’re also prone to becoming infected. How do you know you should seek medical care for your ingrown nail? Read on to find out.

For those dealing with an infected ingrown toenail, seeking prompt medical attention is crucial to prevent serious complications like abscesses, permanent nail deformity, or systemic infection. Babek Kosari, DPM, offers specialized and effective treatment for infected ingrown toenails.

How can you recognize an ingrown toenail has become infected? Read on to learn more about when you should be concerned about an ingrown toenail and whether you need care.

Why ingrown toenails occur

Ingrown toenails are quite common. About 20% of people who see a physician for foot problems have an ingrown nail. 

Ingrown toenails can occur due to various factors, including trimming toenails too short or wearing tight-fitting shoes that constrict the toes. Other potential causes include trauma to the nail or nail bed, underlying nail health issues like fungal infections, congenital toenail problems, or genetic factors.

How to know a nail is infected

When an ingrown toenail becomes infected, these common signs indicate the need for prompt podiatric care:

Increasing pain and soreness

Your infected toenail may experience increased pain and tenderness, making walking and wearing regular shoes uncomfortable.


Infection triggers increased blood flow, causing warmth, redness, and swelling around the ingrown toenail.

Pus or drainage

Obvious signs of infection include pus or discharge, which can be yellow or green and may have an unpleasant odor. Bleeding or blood tinged with pus can also occur.

Increased sensitivity to touch

Even mild pressure or gentle touches can become excruciating due to heightened skin sensitivity caused by the infection.


In rare cases, systemic infection can lead to symptoms like fever, chills, and a general feeling of unwellness. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice these symptoms.

Treating ingrown toenails

Babek Kosari, DPM, and his experienced team provide personalized treatment options for infected ingrown toenails based on the severity of the condition. Your treatment plan may start with antibiotics to combat a bacterial infection. 

Some patients require a mild surgical procedure, including:

Nail lift

In early-stage ingrown toenails with mild infection signs, Dr. Kosari may performa nail lift. This involves lifting the affected nail's edge and separating it from the soft tissue, sometimes with the addition of a splint.

Partial nail avulsion

For more severe or recurrent cases of ingrown nails, Dr. Kosari may recommend a partial nail avulsion. During this procedure, he removes a portion of the ingrown nail and applies treatments to prevent incorrect regrowth.

Complete nail avulsion

In cases of severe or chronic ingrown toenails, you may require a complete nail avulsion. This involves numbing the toe and removing the ingrown section of the nail and surrounding tissue. 

The nail naturally regrows under Dr. Kosari’s guidance to reduce the risk of future ingrown nails.

Preventing ingrown toenails

Proper foot care helps prevent ingrown toenails. When cutting your toenails, avoid rounding the edges. Leave them long enough so that the corners freely rest against surrounding skin. 

Wear comfortable shoes that aren’t too tight. They should leave plenty of room for your toes to breathe. 

If you have concerns about an ingrown toenail, schedule an appointment at the office of Babak Kosari, DPM, in Northridge, California, today.