These Ingrown Toenail Removal Videos Are Just One Of Many Disgusting But Oddly Satisfying Internet Trends

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WARNING: These videos contain graphic content that might be upsetting to some viewers.

Human beings are fascinated by gross things. What’s more, we are especially fascinated by gross things happening to other people. As such, it is unsurprising that ingrown toenail removal videos are A Thing. They are all over YouTube. In fact, there is even a channel dedicated solely to ingrown toenail removal videos called Ingrown Life. I have now watched several of the videos on the Ingrown Life channel, and it is a life decision I simultaneously regret, and yet also do not regret.

The phrase “I’m disgusted, yet I can’t look away” has perhaps never been more apt.

YouTube videos and channels focusing on the removal of things that probably shouldn’t be in or on our bodies have been having A Moment for quite some time now. I’m fairly certain we can trace the trend back to Dr. Pimple Popper, aka dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee; although Lee has been on YouTube since 2010 — in fact, her first video was uploaded almost exactly seven years ago, on Oct. 20, 2010 —  her bananas cyst removals, blackhead extractions, and assorted other puss-filled activities have gone viral over the past few years, giving rise to a whole movement. Now, she’s got more than 3 million YouTube subscribers and her own skincare line — not to mention the fact that her popularity is likely what inspired such things as these interactive pimple popping cakes.

Yes, cakes. As in, things you eat. You read that right. They look like this:

Yum. Or... something.

But pimple popping isn’t the only genre of gross videos making the YouTube rounds; we’ve also got things like tonsil stone removal videos and, yes, ingrown toenail removal videos at the ready now. Personally, though,I find the ingrown toenail videos to be particularly harrowing, largely because I just can’t get over the idea that it’s like one of the sharpest and most durable parts of your own body has turned against you. That is… more than a little horrifying to me, even though ingrown toenails are pretty common occurrences. (Body horror is real.)

Ingrown toenails may result from a number of different causes, but according to the Mayo Clinic, some of the most common are “wearing shoes that crowd your toenails, cutting your toenails too short or not straight across, injuring your toenail, [or] having unusually curved toenails.” They more typically affect your big toe, although it’s not unheard of for other toenails to become ingrown, as well.

Home remedies may be used to treat them, including soaking your feet in warm water and placing cotton or dental floss under the ingrown edge in order to encourage the nail to grow above the skin; however, if your situation is a little more complicated, medical treatments such as lifting the nail, partially removing the nail, or removing the nail and tissue may be required. Either way, it’s super important not to leave an ingrown toenail untreated; if you don’t do anything about it, it might end up leading to a bone infection. People who have diabetes or other conditions which cause poor blood flow to the feet should be especially vigilant; because of these blood flow issues, complications from ingrown toenails can be more severe for these folks.

Here is a small taste of what removal videos look like:

IngrownLife on YouTube
IngrownLife on YouTube
IngrownLife on YouTube
IngrownLife on YouTube

I can’t tell you anything about whether Ingrown Life’s techniques are good or standard ingrown toenail removal methods, so I wouldn’t use these videos as, say, how-to guides; if, however, you derive an odd sense of satisfaction out of watching someone peel back skin and yank out bits of nails from deep within a person’s nail bed, then these videos will be right up your alley.

Indeed, if that does describe you, there’s absolutely a psychological reason for why you get your ya-yas this way: According to Shape, it allows you to feel fear in controlled circumstances. Said Bryn Mawr psychology professor Clark McCauley, Ph.D. to the magazine in 2015, “It's similar to why people go on roller coasters. You feel fear, even though you know you're safe. You get a big arousal value out of them.” This, in turns, hits your reward buttons —which also might explain why you keep coming back to these gross yet fascinating videos over and over again.

Interestingly, the videos on Ingrown Life actually seem to be relatively tame, all things considered; if you simply search YouTube for “ingrown toenail removal,” you’ll find plenty of more disgusting things right in the first page of results.

Just, y’know… make sure you’ve got a strong stomach before doing so.

Good luck.