What Will Happen If I Don’t Treat My Ingrown Toenail?

Even in the best of circumstances, ingrown toenails can be a frustrating problem to have. A mild ingrown toenail will still cause some pain and sensitivity. You may notice some redness and swelling. It may sting when you touch it (and hurt when the toe bumps up against the front of your shoe.)

Yet despite the discomfort, many people are still hesitant about seeking treatment. If you’re in the mild stages of an ingrown toenail of your own, you may be thinking things like:

Do I really need to see a doctor about this?

What will happen if I don’t get it treated?

It’s just an ingrown toenail. How bad could it be?

Well, we have some good news and some bad news to share with you. We’ll start with the bad.

Ingrown Toenails Often Get Worse – Not Better – Without Treatment 

Although some mild ingrown toenails may go away on their own with time and normal nail trimming, the truth is that many (if not most) won’t.

Trust us: you do not want to wait and see what happens to yours.

Ingrown toenails usually do start out at a milder stage, causing only some minor swelling and discomfort. But over the following days and weeks, things often tend to get worse and worse.

Untreated ingrown toenails can become severely painful, and can easily get infected. If that infection isn’t dealt with promptly, it can spread and deepen, potentially even reaching the bone. By this point, if you haven’t sought help from a podiatrist, extreme measures like amputation may now be on the table.

Infections are especially dangerous if you have diabetes or immunocompromised. Common signs of infection include red streaks and pus under the nail.

There’s more bad news. For many people, ingrown toenails are at least partially linked to the natural shape of your nails, which is determined by your genetics. So even if one ingrown toenail does go away on its own or with home treatments, you are likely to keep getting ingrown toenails over and over again in the same spot.

When Should I See Dr. Brandy About My Ingrown Toenail?

We actually recommend that you contact us as soon as you notice a problem with an ingrown toenail, regardless of other factors. Home treatments (regular nail trimming and soaking the toe) may work for you if you are healthy and the pain is mild, but you’re just as likely to merely prolong your suffering and delay the inevitable. Early intervention from a professional is the best way to keep an ingrown toenail from spiraling out of control.

That being said, people in the following situations should not even give home treatments a second thought. Call us immediately if any of the following statements are true:

  • Your pain is severe
  • You notice any signs of infection, such as red streaks, significant inflammation, or pus
  • You have diabetes or are immunocompromised
  • You have developed ingrown toenails multiple times in the past

Unfortunately, by the time most people finally make the call to come see us, their toenails are already severe enough that we need to take a more aggressive treatment approach.

That said, we promised you good news. Here it is:

Ingrown Toenail Treatment Is Usually Safe, Painless, and Effective

It turns out that you have absolutely nothing to fear from visiting the podiatrist about your ingrown toenail.

The process just takes a couple of minutes. After numbing your toe with a little local anesthetic, we’ll remove the offending nail border, bandage you up, and send you on your way. The pain relief is immediate, most people can go back to regular activities within a day, and back to full activity (including swimming and sports) within a week to two weeks.

If ingrown toenails are a recurring problem in your life, we can even remove part of the nail bed so the nail border that keeps getting ingrown won’t grow back.

You’ll have some follow-up care instructions, and we’ll schedule a second appointment just to check and make sure everything is healing properly. But in terms of active treatments, this one, single appointment is able to provide lasting relief for the vast majority of our patients.

If you currently are in the early stages of an ingrown toenail, we strongly recommend you make an appointment with Dr. Brandy as soon as possible. Don’t give it a chance to get worse! Contact the Trinity Foot Center today by calling (972) 293-9650, or completing our online contact form.

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Office Hours
Monday 8:00am - 4:30pm
Tuesday 8:00am - 4:30pm
Wednesday 8:00am - 4:30pm
Thursday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Friday 8:00am - Noon


p. (972) 293-9650
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1801 N. Hampton Road
Suite 340
DeSoto, TX 75115

Inside the Inwood National Bank Building on the 3rd Floor

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