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Ingrown fingernails

ingrown fingernail

Ingrown fingernails can cause pain and swelling and increase the risk of infection. An ingrown nail develops when one or both sides of your nail grow into the skin. Home treatments include soaking and physical manipulation of the nail. Ingrown nails are a common condition that can be quite painful. They can be the result of tight-fitting shoes, improper nail care, or repeated trauma. 


Paronychia is an infection of the tissues surrounding a fingernail or toenail. In most instances, the finger is infected by Staphylococcus aureus, a common staph bacteria, or fungus candida. Infections may progress to full-blown, painful abscesses. If an infection persists without treatment, there is a risk of more serious infection and permanent damage to the nail. 


A felon is a serious infection deep inside the fingertip. It can lead to a painful, pus-filled abscess. It is often caused by a bacterial infection, primarily from Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Although paronychia and felon are both infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, a felon is often more painful and severe than paronychia. If paronychia is left untreated, it can grow and spread, resulting in a felon. 

Causes of an ingrown nail

An ingrown nail occurs when the side of your nail grows into a soft support tissue of your toe or finger. This leads to inflammation and pain. There are several reasons why ingrown nails happen, including:

Excessive sweating:

                         Heavy sweating can cause moist skin and nails. Softer nails may split more often and grow into the skin. 


                     A condition causing deformed fingers or toes can also lead to ingrown nails.

Overly curved toenails:

                    This is uncommon, but misshapen nails can cause repeated ingrown toenails. 

Improper nail trimming:

                       This is a common reason for developing ingrown nails. Cutting the nail too short or at an improper angle increases the risk of a nail becoming ingrown as it regrows.

Wearing tight-or-ill-fitting shoes:

                         Tight shoes can cause increased pressure on the nail. This can cause nail fragments to grow deep into the skin and increase the recurrence risk. 


Unless you have diabetes or another medical condition that places you at special risk, you may be able to successfully treat an infected fingernail at home. The steps are simple.

  1. Apply warm compresses or soak the finger in warm, soapy water for 10 to 20 minutes, at least twice a day
  2. Apply antibiotic or antifungal cream
  3. Keep the infected area covered with a sterile bandage

Medical intervention

When an ingrown fingernail causes a severe infection, particularly if an abscess forms your doctor may recommend one of several medical procedures. 

Cotton wedge

You or your doctor may gently lift the nail and insert a small wedge of medicated cotton between your nail and the inflamed skin next to the nail. This can relieve pain and enable the nail to grow properly.

Draining an abscess

If your ingrown fingernail has developed into an abscess, a doctor should drain it. Your finger will be numbed with local anesthesia in the doctor’s office before an incision is made to drain the pus. If there is significant drainage, the doctor may place a gauze piece, or wick, in the incision so it may continue to drain for a day or two.  To get information about autosexual or FUPA.

Surgical excision

Ingrown fingernails rarely require surgical treatment. Surgery is more common with ingrown toenails. However, if an ingrown nail doesn’t resolve on its own, you may need to see a family doctor or dermatologist for a surgical solution.

Doctors commonly use a procedure called nail avulsion. This involves removing a portion of the nail to allow the infected area to drain and heal. It is performed in the doctor’s office using local anesthesia to numb the area. 

Signs of ingrown nails

The most common sign of an ingrown nail is pain where the nail meets the skin. This pain may be mild at first, but if the ingrown nails progress, it can become quite debilitating. 

Other common signs of an ingrown nail are:

An open sore at the site of the toenail pain

Swollen, painful red skin around the edges of the skin

Pus or leaking fluid

If caught early, paronychia can be easily treated with warm water soaks 2 to 3 times per day. Serious causes of paronychia can include:

Feeling unwell

Fever or chills 

Red streaking of the skin

Body aches


The most common cause of ingrown fingernails is cutting the nails too short. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends following these steps for safe nail trimming:

Soak them first:

Softer nails are easier to trim. Take a bath or shower or soak the nails in warm water for a few minutes before trimming them. 

Use clean, sharp tools:

Disinfect nail clippers and emery board with rubbing alcohol at least once per month. Do not use clippers that have rust or that have become worn out or dull.

Use fingernail slippers for fingers:

Do not use toenail clippers on fingers, and vice versa.

Cut the nail straight across:

Do not cut the edges much shorter.

Round the edges gently:

To round the edges of fingernails, use a clean nail file or emery board. Move the file in the same direction. Avoid a back-and-forth sawing motion.

Do not cut the cuticles:

Cuticles are a layer of protection for nails. Trimming them increases the risk of infection.

Used hand cream:

Keeping the hands and nails moisturized can help prevent them from drying and cracking. 

See a doctor for any nail changes:

Nails that have a different color, texture, or shape may point to another health issue.

I am a medical student. I researched ingrown fingernails.

Writer name:

                      Ifrah Khalid

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