Patients at the Podiatry Center of New Jersey who have suffered with an ingrown toenail often ask how to avoid having this painful condition occur again. The answer to that question depends on a number of factors.

Common Causes of Ingrown Nails

Some people have an inherited tendency that predisposes their nails to become ingrown. Also known as onychocryptosis, this condition can occur due to a toe deformity such as a bunion, where the nail of one toe presses up against the other. In these situations, careful monitoring to detect when a nail is first starting to grow back into the skin surrounding the nail may be the best strategy available. Other causes of ingrown nails, however, allow for a more proactive approach to prevention. These include:

  • Improper nail trimming—toenails should be cut straight across. Do not round the edges or cut nails so short that the skin around the toe overlaps the nail.
  • Poorly fitting footwear—shoes that have narrow toe boxes that force toes up against one another can lead to an ingrown nail.
  • Fungal infections—the risk of contracting one of these can be greatly reduced by wearing shoes in public places because the infections are spread by direct contact. It’s also important to keep feet dry. Change socks when you notice they are damp and use an anti-fungal powder if your feet tend to sweat excessively.


At the first sign of an ingrown toenail—redness, swelling and pain where the nail is pushing against the skin—you may try soaking your foot in warm water with Epsom salts. After 15-20 minutes, try to gently massage the nail out of the skin. If this does not work, it’s best to contact us for an appointment. Ingrown toenails can become infected if not treated promptly and properly. If you have chronic recurring ingrown toenails, the podiatrist may recommend a minor surgical procedure to remove a part of the nail bed and prevent the part of the nail that has repeatedly become ingrown from growing back.

At Podiatry Center of New Jersey our team of doctors treat various conditions such as sports injuries, diabetic foot problems, and pediatric foot conditions, toe deformities, arthritis, nail fungus, arch problems, and heel pain. Equipped with advanced technologies and dedicated staff, our 16 conveniently located offices provide individualized high-quality care for patients across Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Ocean, Passaic, and Union Counties. For all your foot and ankle problems, contact our Wayne, NJ office at (973) 925-4111 for an appointment.