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Ingrown Toenail Removal

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

Ingrown Nail
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Reasons for Procedure

The entire nail or the portion of the nail growing into the skin may be removed. It is most often done to:

  • Relieve pain
  • Relieve swelling or infection
  • Remove a deformed nail
  • Correct abnormal nail growth

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have ingrown toenail removal, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Infection
  • Excessive swelling or bleeding

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Diabetes
  • Problems with blood circulation

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

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


You will be given 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 nail will be cut 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 anesthetic is injected 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:

  • Wear cotton socks and loose fitting shoes for about 2 weeks.
  • Do not run or engage in strenuous activities until the toe is healed. You may need to wait 2 weeks.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .
  • 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.

Call Your Doctor

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the wound
  • Chalky white, blue, or black appearance to skin of toes or foot

In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

Revision Information

  • American Diabetes Association

  • Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians

  • Nurses Entrepreneurial Foot Care Association of Canada

  • Canadian Podiatric Medical Association

  • Ingrown toenails. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons website. Available at: Accessed March 2, 2015.

  • Ingrown toenails. American Academy of Family Physicians' website. Available at: Updated March 2014. Accessed March 2, 2015.