Some ingrown toenails can feel hard or swollen. While this is not always cause for concern, an untreated ingrown toenail can grow deep into the skin, letting pathogens enter and creating a fertile breeding ground for bacteria.

The Risks of Ingrown Toenail Complications

Ingrown toenails do not heal on their own. Some can be treated at home, but simple remedies can prove ineffective if complications appear likely. You should consider consulting a podiatrist before even attempting at-home treatment if:

  • You have diabetes
  • Your legs feel numb
  • You have been diagnosed with circulatory problems

People who have diabetes, for instance, have a higher risk of infection and could inadvertently injure themselves in the course of self-care. However, anyone who believes they have an ingrown toenail should not delay in calling our podiatrist. This is because ingrown toenail-related complications could include the following.


Infection can cause additional complications, many of which are very visible. Common symptoms include:

  • Pus or liquid around the ingrown toenail
  • Increased pain
  • A feeling of warmth in or around the toe

Many infections can cause complications far worse than an ordinary ingrown toenail. In some rare cases, an infection can penetrate the bone, causing full-body symptoms that can put patients in a near-constant state of pain and malaise.


An infected ingrown toenail could also lead to a condition called gangrene. Gangrene, in simple terms, is the death of tissue caused by decreased blood flow or a serious bacterial infection. It most commonly affects the arms and legs, but it can be diagnosed in the toes, too.

Since gangrene can spread and begin consuming other healthy tissue, it always necessitates a rapid medical response. If the decay spreads too far or penetrates too deep, patients could lose their toe or, in a worst-case scenario, their entire foot.

People with conditions like diabetes have an increased risk of developing gangrene-related complications as a result of an infected ingrown toenail.

Treating an Ingrown Toenail

Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle assesses every ingrown toenail to identify each patient’s unique needs. Common treatments include:

While most ingrown toenails do not need professional care, Meridian and Caldwell-area residents who are experiencing unusual pain or infection-related symptoms should schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Dr. P. Roman Burk
Providing experienced private practice podiatry services in the Caldwell and Meridian, ID area since 2007.