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5 Common Misconceptions About Ingrown Toenails

Apr 01, 2023
Your toenails may not receive much attention other than a quick trim or paint job now and then. But treating your toenails too casually can lead to problems. Learn more about ingrown toenails and the misconceptions that might cause them.

You can’t always prevent an ingrown toenail, but most are due to faulty nail care or other habits you can change.

At Metroplex Foot and Ankle, LLP, our skilled team of board-certified podiatrists offers outstanding foot and ankle care to people of all ages in Dallas, Garland, and Richardson, Texas. From sunburned feet and ankle sprains to bunions and diabetic foot ulcers, you can rely on our medical expertise to accurately diagnose and treat your problem.

Here’s what our team says about five common misconceptions regarding ingrown toenails:

Myth 1: An ingrown toenail is no big deal

Fact: It’s true that most ingrown toenails don’t threaten your health. However, ingrown toenails can cause considerable foot pain and interfere with mobility. In addition, health risks become a factor if infection sets in, which is a common complication of an ingrown nail.

People with diabetes, poor circulation in the legs, or nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) are at increased risk of developing a non-healing wound (ulcer) and spreading infection. Thus, we recommend scheduling a visit immediately if you develop tenderness, redness, or other symptoms of an ingrown nail. Also, consider our diabetic care services to identify issues before they threaten your health.

Otherwise, anyone with an ingrown toenail should schedule an appointment if their symptoms last longer than a couple of days, worsen rather than improve, or show signs of an infection.

Myth 2: You can always treat your ingrown toenail at home

Fact: Depending on the cause, an ingrown nail may respond well to warm soaks, antibiotic ointment, bandaging to keep the area clean and dry, and wearing open-toed shoes. However, you won’t experience healing without correcting the conditions which triggered the problem.

We also recommend not cutting or notching the affected nail to relieve pressure since this home remedy increases your risk of infection.

Signs and symptoms of infection include:

  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Redness
  • Increased pain
  • Drainage from the area


Without treatment, the infection can spread to the underlying bone and muscle and eventually enter your bloodstream, increasing your risk of severe complications such as tissue death (gangrene) and sepsis.

Myth 3: Podiatry care for ingrown toenails is complicated and painful

Fact: A top priority at Metroplex Foot and Ankle, LLP, is alleviating pain. We numb the affected toe before proceeding, and our procedures are typically quick — often 30 minutes or less. Our specialists also discuss any procedure thoroughly before proceeding, providing clear aftercare instructions that are easy to follow at home.

Myth 4: You can’t prevent ingrown toenails

Fact: Common causes of ingrown toenails include many changeable habits or treatable conditions, such as:

  • Curving the nails when trimming rather than cutting straight across
  • Trimming toenails too short
  • Wearing narrow or tight shoes with a restrictive toe box
  • Injury to the nail or nail plate
  • Untreated fungal nail infection
  • Nails that naturally curve excessively (related to genetics)
  • Excessively sweaty feet

We identify the probable cause of your ingrown nail and offer recommendations or treatments to prevent future episodes.   

Myth 5: Ingrown toenails are only an adult problem

Fact: People of all ages develop ingrown toenails. However, the condition is more common in teens and athletes than it is in older adults. Sports that increase your risk of developing an ingrown toenail include running, soccer, and football. Even so, simply stubbing your toe can also lead to an ingrown nail.

If you have a painful or persistent ingrown toenail, we can help. Schedule an evaluation at Metroplex Foot and Ankle, LLP, by calling your nearest office in Richardson, Garland, or Dallas, Texas, today, or requesting an appointment online any time.