“An ingrown toenail occurs when some part of the outside edge of the toenail grows into or underneath the skin. Ingrown toenails can be caused by many factors, such as genetics, the way you walk, toenail fungus, or even the shoes you wear,” according to podiatric surgeon Dana Canuso. Because there are multiple types, the best products for ingrown toenails come in several kinds of treatments out there, the right tool (or tools) for you will depend largely on the stage of the ingrown toenail.
Ingrown toenails have three stages: Stage one includes swelling and moderate pain. Stage two is usually more painful and features a mild infection with some discharge. Stage three involves new skin tissue growing over the infection, which typically worsens it — and if your ingrown toenail has reached stage three, you should probably seek medical attention. That said, for stage one, preventative measures like soaks and proper trimming are often effective. For stage two, antibacterial treatments can help with the infection while caps and bandages can minimize the pain in the interim.
All of the following products (with the exception of the tea tree foot soak) are direct recommendations from Dr. Canuso — but they’re also highly rated by real reviewers who have used them to treat their own ingrown toenails at home with success.
1. The Best Extraction Tools
These extraction tools have over 5,500 reviews and an overall rating of 4.6 stars. Dr. Canuso also recommends them: “These are important because if an ingrown toenail comes back, it is usually because not enough of the nail was cut away in the first place. Extraction tools help to make sure that it is as easy as possible to remove the amount of toenail that is needed.” The set comes with nine pieces (including a clipper, a file, and a clamp corrector), and they’re all made from durable, easy-to-clean stainless steel.
One reviewer wrote: “Great product great price. Worked like a charm. Had an ingrown nail for over a year.”
2. The Best Ingrown Toenail Clippers
“Ingrown toenails rarely ‘grow out’ on their own. It is important to use a good, sharp, sterile clipper to remove an ingrown and prevent infection,” Dr. Canuso wrote, and this is the recommended pair. The super-sharp blade is made from stainless steel and features a 25-degree arc to fit the natural curvature of the nail. They’re also larger than many competing pairs for ease of use and feature thick, soft, nonslip handles on either side of the double springs.
One reviewer wrote: “Get these if you struggle with ingrown toenails. [...] Takes me minutes and no pain, they are so easy to use and actually get to what is hurting you! I wish I had gotten them sooner.”
3. A Foot Soak To Soften Ingrown Toenails
According to Dr. Canuso, “Soaks are great to help with ingrown toenails. They work in two very important ways: One, the soak softens the skin and nail so that it is easier to cut all of the offending toenail away [...] and two, the soak can help draw out any pus or fluid that may have been caused by the ingrown and is often the culprit for pain from ingrown toenails.”
While it’s not a direct recommendation from Dr. Canuso, this tea tree oil foot soak has an overall rating of 4.6 stars and over 18,000 reviews — and many rave that it seriously helped with their ingrown toenails. Instead of harsh ingredients and unnecessary fillers, it contains epsom salt to soften the skin and real essential oils (like tea tree and eucalyptus) to fight infection and soothe irritation. It’s also cruelty-free and is designed to help with unwanted foot odors.
One reviewer wrote: “I don’t write reviews often, but this foot soak is seriously amazing. I had an extremely painful ingrown toenail, like I couldn’t wear a shoe on that foot painful. [...] I started out soaking every day, then every other day, and now am doing once a week. In two weeks of use, my ingrown toenail was completely healed.”
4. The Best Ingrown Toenail Gel
“Treatment drops and gels can work the same way as a soak by softening the skin and nail to help remove the nail and relieve pain from the ingrown,” Dr. Canuso wrote. Dr. Scholl's ingrown toenail gel is the suggested treatment for both removal and pain relief. The medicated gel (made with 1% sodium sulfide) softens the nail so it’s easier to trim and minimizes the pain associated with ingrown toenails. Since the solution also comes with a retainer ring, it’s easy to apply and seal the gel in place.
One reviewer wrote: “I cut out the ingrown section with almost no pain! This stuff REALLY helped with the pain too after about 10 minutes! Great product and great price!”
5. The Best Toe Caps
Dr. Canuso wrote: “Ingrown toenails can be very painful and if you are not able to get immediate relief, wearing a toe cap can help protect the nail from causing pain if you accidentally hit the toe or while wearing a shoe.” This recommended set of toe protector caps comes with 12 different pieces in various sizes. They’re made from medical-grade silicone, so they’re soft, flexible, easy to sanitize, and fit comfortably inside of your shoe. You can even trim them with scissors for a better fit.
One reviewer wrote: “This little toe sleeve is incredibly comfortable. It’s like having your toe enveloped by a puffy cloud. I’ve had a toenail injury that won’t heal properly because it keeps re-injuring itself when I accidentally bang it on things. I’ve been wearing this little protective cushion for a few days and I really feel recovery is speeding up.”
6. The Best Antibacterial Bandages For Ingrown Toenails
“It is important to wear a bandage over an ingrown toenail that is recently removed or with skin exposed to prevent infection,” Dr. Canuso wrote, but these Curad Performance Series Ironman bandages are way more effective than your standard brand. That’s because the nonstick pads are treated with an antibacterial formula to help prevent infection. The bandages are also sealed on all four sides to better keep germs out. Finally, the extreme-hold adhesive paired with the tough, flexible material ensure that the bandage actually stays on, even in the face of friction and movement.
One reviewer wrote: “These are literally THE BEST! They stay on, even in tough places and through any activities. These even stay put on the bottom of the foot as well as fingers. Very comfortable, easy to apply, wonderful adhesion.”
Also Great: The Best Antifungal Toenail Treatment
Finally, if you’re also dealing with a fungal infection, Dr. Canuso recommends the Fungal Nail Eraser from her Skincare For Feet line. This topical oil takes less than a minute to apply, but the antifungal and herbal extracts work to treat infections, strengthen nails, and counteract discoloration. It’s also safe for those with diabetes and children as young as two years old.
One reviewer wrote: “It works. Best product and highly recommend.”
Dana Canuso, podiatric surgeon