You had surgery to remove part or all of your toenail. This was done to relieve pain and discomfort due to an ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenails can occur when the edge of your toenail grows into the skin of the toe.
After you go home, follow your health care provider's instructions on how to take care of the toe. Use the information below as a reminder.
When You're in the Hospital
The provider numbed your toe with a local anesthesia before the procedure started. The provider then cut the part of the nail that grew into the skin of the toe. Either part of the nail or the entire nail was removed. The nail tissue may be treated with a chemical to prevent regrowth.
The surgery took an hour or less and your provider has covered the wound with a bandage. You can go home the same day.
What to Expect at Home
You will likely feel pain once the pain-numbing medicine wears off. Take the pain reliever your provider recommends.
You may notice:
- Some swelling in your foot
- Light bleeding
- Yellow clear discharge from the wound
At home you should:
- Keep your operated foot raised above the level of your heart to reduce swelling
- Rest your foot and avoid moving it
- Keep your wound clean and dry
Change the dressing about 12 to 24 hours after the surgery. Follow your provider's instructions for changing the dressing. Your provider may recommend soaking your foot in warm water before removing the dressing. This helps the bandage to not stick to the wound.
In the following days, change the dressing once or twice a day or as suggested by your provider.
Keep your wound covered both day and night for the first week. You can let your toe remain uncovered at night in the second week. This helps the wound heal.
Soak your operated foot, if recommended, 2 to 3 times a day in the bath containing:
- Epsom salts - to relieve swelling and inflammation
- Betadine - an antibiotic to help reduce the risk for infection
Dry your foot and apply antibiotic ointment if recommended. Dress the wound to keep it clean.
Try to reduce activity and rest your foot. Avoid bumping your toe or putting a lot of pressure on it. You may want to wear open-toed shoes. If wearing closed shoes, make sure they are not too tight. Wear cotton socks.
You may need to do this for about 2 weeks.
You can likely resume your normal activities within a week or two. Getting back to sports may take a little longer.
The toenail may grow inward again. To prevent this, follow these tips:
- Don't wear tight-fitting shoes or high heels
- Don't trim your nails too short or round the corners
- Don't pick or tear at the corners of the nails
When to Call the Doctor
See your provider again in 2 to 3 days or as recommended.
Contact your provider if you notice:
- Your toenail is not healing
- Fever or chills
- Pain, even after taking pain-relief medicine
- Bleeding from the toenail
- Pus from the toenail
- Swelling or redness of the toe or foot
- Regrowth of the nail into the skin of the toe
Onychocryptosis surgery; Onychomycosis; Unguis incarnates surgery; Ingrown toenail removal; Toenail ingrowth
McGee DL. Podiatric procedures. In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 51.
Pollock M. Ingrown toenails. In: Fowler GC, ed. Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 194.
Richert B, Rich P. Nail surgery. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 149.
Review Date 10/10/2022
Updated by: Thomas N. Joseph, MD, Private Practice specializing in Orthopaedics, Subspecialty Foot and Ankle, Camden Bone and Joint, Camden, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.