An ingrown toenail can be very painful and leave you wanting to do anything for a bit of relief, in many cases even the weight of the bedsheets can be unbearable. An ingrown toenail is one where the edge or corner of your nail grows down and cuts into the adjacent skin of your toe, or where the width of your nail is too wide for the width of your nail bed, leading to your toe becoming red, swollen and tender (inflamed). If left untreated, the inflammation can spread to the rest of your toe and the area can become infected and may ooze pus. It may smell unpleasant.

You may inherit many factors that make you more likely to have an ingrown toenail. These genetic factors may affect the way you stand and the way you walk. You may also inherit a tendency for your toenails to curl in at the edges rather than to grow straight. Wearing tight shoes, socks or tights can damage your nails and encourage them to grow into your skin. Incorrect nail cutting and trauma to the nail are perhaps the most common causes of ingrowing nails. It is not uncommon for people to leave spikes of nail in the corner when cutting.


Prompt treatment by a podiatrist / chiropodist is recommended to minimise pain and this can often reduce the amount of treatment involved and also costs. Podiatrists are specialists of foot and ankle problems such as in-growing toe nails. Initially your podiatrist may cut, file, and dress the toe and give advice on prevention.


If your toenail does not improve, your podiatrist may be able to partially remove a section of your toenail with the aid of a local aesthetic to minimise discomfort and this may be sufficient to allow the ingrowing toenail to heal and the nail to grow back satisfactorily.

If the above treatment is unsuccessful or not deemed suitable for you due to the severity of your ingrown nail your podiatrist may recommend a minor surgical procedure in which a section or your entire toenail is permanently removed. This will be done by cutting the offending piece of nail out surgically, under local anaesthetic and using phenol (a chemical) to prevent regrowth.

For more information about podiatry or chiropody treatments, don’t hesitate to contact us

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