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Ingrown Toenail Removal
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Ingrown Toenail Removal Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


This is surgery to remove a toenail that has curled and grown into the skin, causing pain.

Ingrown Nail
Ingrown Nail
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

  • Wear comfortable clothing and loose-fitting shoes.
  • Arrange for a ride home.


You will be give local anesthesia—only the area that is being operated on will be numbed by an injection.

Description of the Procedure

A local anesthetic will be used to numb the toe. Using special tools, the doctor will cut the nail down towards the cuticle (bottom of the nail). Then either the whole nail or part of the nail will be pulled off. A chemical may be put on the cuticle to prevent the nail that was removed from growing back.

How Long Will It Take?

Less than 1 hour

How Much Will It Hurt?

It will likely hurt some when the doctor injects the anesthetic into your toe. During the procedure, you will not feel pain, but you will feel pressure and tugging. After the procedure, you will likely have some pain. Your doctor may give you pain relievers.

Post-procedure Care

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Do not put weight on the affected toe.
  • If needed, take pain medicine.
  • Keep your foot elevated when possible.
  • Soak your toe in warm water for 10-20 minutes. Do this 2-3 times a day for one week.
  • Keep a clean, dry dressing over the toe for the first few days.
  • Wash your hands before caring for the nail area or changing the dressing.
  • Wear cotton socks and loose fitting shoes for about two weeks.
  • Do not run or engage in strenuous activities until the toe is healed. You may need to wait two weeks.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .
  • If your toe is infected:
  • Use the prescribed antibiotic cream or ointment as directed.
  • Do not touch the antibiotic with your finger. Instead, put a small dab of the cream on a clean dressing. Use that dressing to apply the medicine to your toe.
  • Take all medicines as directed.
  • To avoid future ingrown nails:
  • Do not wear high heels or shoes that fit poorly.
  • Trim your toenails straight across. Do not pick or tear at them.

Complete healing takes about 2-3 weeks. This will not interfere with most activities. If the entire nail was removed, your body will create a hard skin in its place. After the skin has covered the sensitive area, you can resume normal activities.



American Diabetes Association



Nurses Entrepreneurial Foot Care Association of Canada

Podiatrists in Canada


Ingrown toenail removal. Healthfinder website. Available at: . Accessed October 14, 2005.

Ingrown toenails. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons website. Available at: . Updated March 2008. Accessed June 10, 2008.

Ingrown toenails. Family website. Available at: . Updated May 2007. Accessed June 10, 2008.

Roberts JR, Hedges JR, Custalow C. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Health Sciences. 2004; chap 52.



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