Ingrown toenails occur when the edges or corners of your nails grow into the skin next to the nail. Your big toe is most likely to get an ingrown toenail. Using your feet extensively during athletic activities can make you especially prone to getting ingrown toenails. Activities in which you repeatedly kick an object or put pressure on your feet for long periods of time can cause toenail damage and increase your risk of ingrown toenails. . There are different types of surgical treatments for ingrown toenails. Partial nail removal only involves removing the piece of nail that is digging into your skin. Your doctor numbs your toe and then narrows the toenail. During a partial nail removal, the sides of the nail are cut away so that the edges are completely straight. A piece of cotton is placed under the remaining portion of the nail to keep the ingrown toenail from recurring. Your doctor may also treat your toe with a compound called phenol, which keeps the nail from growing back. Total nail removal may be used if your ingrown nail is caused by thickening. Your doctor will give you a local pain injection and then remove the entire nail in a procedure called a matrixectomy.