Close up of a female feet in spa salon

Don't let red, swollen skin from ingrown toenails stop you from rocking your latest pedicure or even your favorite footwear fashions. With corners curving deeply into the sides of your toes, this abnormal nail shape isn't just aesthetically unpleasant -- it can also be uncomfortable and lead to infection, a major health risk for those who have diabetes or other blood flow disorders. Ditch the too-tight shoes and aggressive clipping technique that got you into this predicament, and get your feet back on track by retraining your nails to grow properly.

Coax an embedded nail corner out from the surrounding skin by softening your foot in a relaxing bath.

  1. Fill a basin with hot water and add 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt or table salt.
  2. Stir the bath water with a plastic spoon until the salt dissolves.
  3. Soak the affected foot for 15 to 20 minutes, three to four times each day until the swelling goes down.
  4. Rinse the foot in warm, soapy water, then clear water.
  5. Dry the foot thoroughly with a towel.


Tight, too-narrow shoes often force nails to curve downward, causing them to grow into the skin. Cover your ingrown toenail with a bandage to provide extra cushioning, and replace those uncomfortable shoes with open-toed shoes or those with a wide toe box to give your toenail some space.

Once the toenail grows past the edge of the toe, keep it well-clipped to prevent further curving.

  1. Soak your feet in warm water to soften the nail.
  2. Cut the nail straight across with a pair of nail clippers, making square corners, just at the edge of the toe.
  3. Lightly file the edge of the nail with an emery board to smooth it out.
  4. Lightly file the corners with the rough end of an ingrown nail file if they are too sharp.

Do not trim the corners of ingrown toenails or cut nails too short, because this will just make them worse. Instead, wait until the nail grows out properly. If the nail continues to grow into the side of your toe, despite home treatment, see a podiatrist.


Soak your nails before clipping them to prevent cracking or crumbling.