Updated: Jul 9
Ingrown toenails are one of the most painful conditions we see as podiatrists. These little pieces of nail can lead to severe pain, localised infection and sometimes even more severe infections. We have seen patients unable to walk properly, wear enclosed shoes or even have the bed sheets resting on their toes due to the extreme pain.
What is an ingrown nail?
An ingrown nail occurs when the nail breaks through the nail sulci - the skin surrounding the nail. This can condition can arise for a number of reasons including:
Ill fitting footwear
Incorrect cutting of the nail
Nail infections such as nail fungus
Genetically inherited nail shape
How do I know if my nail is ingrown?
An ingrown toenail is typically quite easy to identify by the discomfort they cause. It may begin as a slight pain along the edge of the nail before progressing into a more significant issue. Once the ingrown nail becomes infected, the pain intensifies and is often accompanied by:
Exudate (pus or other discharge from the toe)
Hypergranulation tissue in advanced cases. This is the body’s response to the nail piercing the skin, resulting in a specific type of skin that bleeds easily and causes significant discomfort.
Ingrown toenail treatments
There are two main ways your podiatrist will treat your ingrown toenail:
Conservative Treatment: This approach involves gently extracting the piece of nail that has broken the skin and rounding off the edge of the nail. Local anaesthesia can be used if needed. Depending on the initial cause of the ingrown nail, recurrence is possible, especially if this treatment is repeatedly performed.
Surgical Treatment: If you are repeatedly suffering with ingrown toenails, we typically recommend this permanent solution. This minor surgical procedure, performed under local anaesthesia, removes the offending edge of the nail, effectively preventing the ingrown toenail from recurring. Post-procedure, most patients report only mild discomfort and can typically resume their regular activities the next day.
Occasionally oral antibiotics may be required and these can be prescribed by your GP. Your podiatrist will be able to recommend if this is necessary.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
Prevention is always better than a cure! Some methods of preventing ingrown toenails include:
Ensuring footwear fits appropriately and does not squash the toes
Avoiding picking at your nails. Cut them straight across and round the corners with a file
Unfortunately there is no evidence to suggest cutting a “V” in the nail will help treat or prevent ingrown nails.
If you or someone you know suffers from ingrown toenails, please contact us at My Family Podiatry either through the button below or call us on 07 3088 6116 for a chat about how we may be able to get you back on your feet without pain.