Stages of an Ingrown Toenail

Our office treats ingrown toenails with a variety of methods, often dependent on the severity of the condition as well as whether there has been recurrence.

There are several ways to develop the painful and uncomfortable condition known as an ingrown toenail. It occurs when the toenail grows into the skin on the side of the nail and may occur due to several different reasons. These may include trimming the toenails incorrectly, wearing shoes and socks that are too tight, or possibly enduring an injury to the toe. There may be options, which may provide moderate relief, including soaking the toe in warm water, wearing the correct footwear that has adequate room for the toes to move about in, or taking antibiotics for an ingrown toenail that becomes infected. Research has shown there are three stages that take place when this condition occurs. The first phase consists of swelling around the side of the nail. Possible drainage and increased pain may be present in phase two, and phase three will typically consist of chronic and recurring infections. If you have developed an ingrown toenail, it is advised to consult with a podiatrist as quickly as possible to discuss the best treatment for you.

Ingrown toenails may initially present themselves as a minor discomfort, but they may progress into an infection in the skin without proper treatment. For more information about ingrown toenails, contact Dr. John Hoy of Seattle Foot and Ankle Center. Our doctor can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are caused when the corner or side of a toenail grows into the soft flesh surrounding it. They often result in redness, swelling, pain, and in some cases, infection. This condition typically affects the big toe and may recur if it is not treated properly.


Improper toenail trimming
Improper shoe fitting
Injury from pedicures or nail picking
Abnormal gait
Poor hygiene
You are more likely to develop an ingrown toenail if you are obese, have diabetes, arthritis, or have any fungal infection in your nails. Additionally, people who have foot or toe deformities are at a higher risk of developing an ingrown toenail.


Some symptoms of ingrown toenails are redness, swelling, and pain. In rare cases, there may be a yellowish drainage coming from the nail.


Ignoring an ingrown toenail can have serious complications. Infections of the nail border can progress to a deeper soft-tissue infection, which can then turn into a bone infection. You should always speak with your podiatrist if you suspect you have an ingrown toenail, especially if you have diabetes or poor circulation.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office located in Seattle, WA. We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails (onychocryptosis) are a common foot ailment and it is very unpleasant to experience. The condition is caused by an increase in pressure from the ingrowth of the nail edge into the skin of the toe. Ingrown toenails commonly cause pain in those who experience them. In some cases, the skin surrounding the ingrown toenail may break which may lead bacteria to enter through and cause an infection. Common symptoms of this ailment include pain, redness, swelling, and warmth around the toe.

An imbalance between the size of the nail and the enlargement of the nail skin edge causes ingrown toenails. This condition is often caused by improperly trimming the toenails. If you are trying you cut your nails, you should always try to trim straight across instead of in a rounded shape. Ingrown toenails can also be an inherited condition and they may also be caused by improper shoe fitting.

Another common cause of the condition is wearing shoes that are either too small or too large. Other causes include poor foot hygiene, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, edema, and fungal infections. There are many risk factors that may make a person more likely to develop an ingrown toenail. Athletes who play “stop and start” sports such as tennis, soccer, and basketball are most likely to have ingrown toenails.

People who have diabetes, a compromised immune system, or poor circulation should immediately seek care from a podiatrist if they have an ingrown toenail. It is also recommended to seek professional assistance if at-home remedies are not successful within a week or if there is persistent pain

“A simple and complex Thank You for caring for my feet and teaching me how to take better care of them.  I’ve only seen you once about a year ago, but will spread your name far and wide. I was sure I’d have to have the painful process of getting an ingrown toenail dug out. Or even two. But you experimented with extra cleaning and trimming and Voila! I continue to give my feet extra care and have not had a problem since. Your noninvasive ways are greatly appreciated. Your knowledge that you shared I greatly appreciate too.  I thought that I’d never leave my former foot doctor, but….well…’ve got me.  Ava, Thank you for being so kind and easy to work with from scheduling an appointment through to the billing. You two make an excellent team.  Thank you both! Enjoy your summer!” -Susan R.