ingrown toenail

What is an ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenails are one of the most common conditions that Podiatrists see in clinic. An ingrown nail happens when a section of the nail punctures the skin, which causes pain, inflammation and potential infection. Ouch!

When the nail pierces the skin, it acts like a foreign body, and the skin around it tries to heal itself, causing the swelling that you often see with ingrowing toenails. This process continues until the section of nail causing the problem is removed.

What causes an ingrown toenail?

There are lots of things that can contribute to ingrown nails. Cutting toenails incorrectly, nail deformity, tight fitting shoes and socks, sweaty feet. It can happen to anyone of any age, but is most common in children and young adults.

What about ingrown toenail treatment?

Ingrown nails can be treated conservatively or surgically, depending on how severe they are. In the early stages, treatment can be as simple as cutting the nail correctly and giving you advice to prevent the problem happening again. Sometimes, if the nail has ingrown several times, or the swelling has become too much to cut the offending section of nail this way, then nail surgery is the best option. Some Podiatrists (Including at our clinic) are able to supply antibiotics for ingrown toenails, where there is infection, and where the antibiotics are appropriate. Podiatrists who are able to supply medicines are shown as POMs on the HCPC register.

Mythbusting – cutting a “V” into the middle of the nail won’t cure it!

Ingrown toenail surgery

Nail surgery is quick and easy, and gives really good results. The whole procedure takes about 40 minutes, and is done under local anaesthetic. The surgery usually involves removing the edge of the nail that is causing the issue, and applying a chemical (phenol) to the nail bed to stop that part of the nail growing back and causing the same problem. It can take about 6 weeks for the toe to heal fully, but it’s a really quick, and relatively painless, way to solve the problem.

We will guide you through the healing and re-dressing process, and provide you with the dressings you will need. In most cases, as only a small section of the nail needs to be removed, once it is healed, you can’t tell there was ever a problem. So, don’t hesitate to get painful nails looked at. The sooner we see them, the easier they are to treat!