Ingrown toenail: pedicure or treat it yourself?

Thousands of people suffer from an ingrown toenail every year. Especially when this is the case with the nail of the big toe, this can cause a lot of misery. When the tip of the toenail grows into the skin, it becomes irritated and can become infected, causing the toe to become thick and red. Pus may also come out. Because you walk differently, you may also experience problems with your other leg. Reason enough to start treating this nail problem at an early stage, if possible with a pedicure.


  • What is an ingrown toenail?
  • What can the pedicure do?
  • Treat an ingrown toenail yourself
  • Tools to treat your ingrown toenail yourself
  • To the doctor?


What is an ingrown toenail?

With an ingrown toenail or unguis incarnatus, your nail grows on the outside or inside into your skin or flesh. This will cause the nail wall to thicken somewhat. If the toenail penetrates deeper into the toe, inflammation will occur. Tissue that normally does not grow there will start to grow and the area will become thick and red. Ultimately, pus and sometimes even blood may also come from the affected region.
An ingrown toenail can occur for various reasons. Usually the reason is incorrect cutting of the nail. This must be done correctly. If you cut the nail at an angle, the tissue of your toe will form around the nail and when the sides start to grow again, they will press against your skin until they eventually pierce through. If your shoe is too small or too tight on a certain valve, this can also promote such a process. It can also happen when swelling is caused by an injury. People who have an abnormal position of the foot, for example due to rheumatism, Elhers-Danlos syndrome, osteoarthritis, club feet or flat feet, are at an increased risk of ingrown toenails.

What can the pedicure do?

In addition to the fact that the pedicure can perform what you can do yourself even better and more thoroughly, there are also treatments that only a pedicure can perform due to the specialized equipment. However, the downside to having to visit a pedicure is the bill. A visit to the pedicure is normally not reimbursed by health insurance. Do you suffer from rheumatism? Then it will be reimbursed under certain conditions.

Gauze between nail and skin

Something that can be done by the pedicure is to place a piece of gauze between the toe and nail. This gauze is often first dipped in a disinfectant solution and then carefully placed between the toe and nail using an instrument after it has been sufficiently filed. This may be painful at first, but it ultimately prevents the nail from growing further into the toe.
A nail brace can also be used to help the nail grow straight again. This is a thin steel wire that is placed around the bent nail. The thread is adjusted straighter every six weeks. This process can take up to a year but is virtually painless. You can also have this done by a podiatrist.

Treat an ingrown toenail yourself

First of all, you should of course try to prevent one of the situations described above from developing so that treatment is not necessary, by paying close attention to your footwear and paying sufficient attention to the technique of cutting the nails. Once the ingrown process has started, you can still do something about it yourself before it escalates and before it becomes absolutely necessary to seek the help of a pedicure.

Foot bath

To keep the toe free of bacteria and to soak it properly, you can take a foot bath up to twice a day. Use lukewarm to lukewarm water and add some soda or Biotex . It is in any case advisable to do this after you have provoked the inflamed area with a file or scissors.

Additional filing

Filing the ingrown nail can be a painful process because you push away the inflamed skin. However, it can help. You must place the file between the nail and the source of inflammation and carefully file off the tip. You can do this even more effectively if you have access to a pedicure set with different attachments. However, you need to know how to deal with this before you make it real. You must avoid making an extra wound in your toe with the file, which will cause it to bleed. Take a good look at which of the different attachments is best for you to use. For example, there is an attachment that allows you to widen the space between the cuticle and the skin and a narrow piece with a sharp point that allows you to reach that protruding piece of nail that punctures your toe and causes the inflammation. Always disinfect the toe thoroughly with some Sterilon after treatment.

Tools to treat your ingrown toenail yourself

If you want to treat your ingrown toenail yourself, it is important that you have the right instruments for this. If you make off with simple nail scissors, you run the risk of making the problem worse. First of all, as mentioned earlier, you could try it with a pedicure set or electric nail file with attachments. This doesn’t have to be expensive. You can purchase such a file for less than €20 via, for example. You can easily pay around €60 for more luxurious sets, for example with a built-in light, but you can benefit from it for a long time and save a lot of pedicure costs. .
After you have created some space between the nail and cuticle with a file, you can use curved pedicure scissors to try to cut off the protruding piece of nail that is poking into your skin. If a sharp edge remains, you can edit it with a file. Don’t forget to disinfect the toe thoroughly afterwards.

To the doctor?

The problem cannot always be prevented without the intervention of a surgeon. If the above remedies do not help, a referral to the hospital is sometimes necessary. A doctor can tackle the problem in different ways. He can remove part of the nail edge using a Partial Matrix Excision (PME), which also includes a piece of the nail root. Phenolization can also be used . After removing a strip of the nail, some phenol is applied using a cotton swab. This burns away a piece of the nail root, so it will no longer grow back there.

Scroll to Top