Ingrown Toenails

What is an in-grown toenail?
The nail becomes ‘ingrown’ when the side of the nail cuts into the skin next to the nail. This is termed onychocryptosis. Typically this is a painful condition that does not resolve without careful intervention. The skin next to the nail may also become infected or inflamed. Any toe can be affected, but the big toes are affected most often. It is a common problem but should be dealt with quickly to avoid the risk of infection and spreading further into the foot.

What causes ingrown toenails?
Tight fitting shoes may be a cause in some cases. It is also more seen in people who cut their toenails very short or have a very curved nail plate. Trauma such as stubbing the toe can also lead to problems.

What is the treatment for an ingrown toenail?
If caught early, and the ‘ingrown’ part of the nail is small, it may be prevented from becoming worse by the following:

  • Soak the toe in warm water for 10 minutes to soften the folds of skin around the affected nail.
  • Then, using a cotton wool bud, push the skin fold over the ingrown nail down and away from the nail. Do this starting at the root of the nail and move the cotton wool bud towards the end of the nail.
  • If the nail can be trimmed in such a way to “release” the splinter , then it may well resolve the problem, however this can be quite challenging and painful.
  • It is recommended that if the ingrown nail cannot be safely managed, then a visit to our facility will almost certainly resolve the issue.

For persistent ingrown toenails, it may be necessary to remove either part of the nail, or completely remove it after using a local anesthetic. For more information, please see our section about Toenail Surgery.