Ingrown Toenails

What is an Ingrown Toenail?
  • An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the nail grows into the skin on one or both sides of the nail bed
  • Common problem in both adults and children
  • Often painful and can result in swelling, redness, pus and infection
  • Most commonly in the big toe, but can also affect smaller toes
  • Causes:
    - Poor nail cutting technique
    - Tight fitting footwear
    - Poor nail shape – involuted or incurvated nails
    - Family history
    - Picking or trauma to the nail
    - Poor Hygiene
Treatment by a Podiatrist:
  • Podiatrists are experts in dealing with ingrown toenails
  • If the ingrowing toenail is mild, conservative treatment may involve removal of the spike of nail, draining any infection and packing a small piece of foam in the side of the nail to help elevate it and separate the nail from the skin
  • Advice to see your doctor for antibiotics if there are signs of bacterial infection
  • For chronic or recurring ingrowing toenails, podiatrists are able to perform a minor surgical procedure to more permanently remove a side of the affected nail
Minor Nail Surgery:
  • Nail surgery is generally only recommended where conservative treatments have failed or for a chronic recurring ingrown toenail
  • It is a procedure that, in the majority of cases, provides a permanent solution
  • The procedure involves:
    - Local anaesthetic being injected into the toe to numb it
    - Removing the offending ingrowing segment or side of nail. If necessary, the entire nail can be removed
    - Cauterising the nail bed where the nail has been removed. This is to avoid the nail growing back
  • The procedure takes about an hour and requires a long consultation booked by the Podiatrist
  • Generally, patients have minimal pain and discomfort following the procedure and over the counter pain relief is adequate to manage this. Most people actually have immediate pain relief
  • The procedure does not require any stitches
  • At home, the patient will need to bathe, clean and apply dressings to the toe as instructed by the Podiatrist
  • Open toed shoes need to be worn for several days following the procedure
  • Following instructions will assist healing and recovery which may take 4-6 weeks to be complete
  • Like any surgical procedure, there is some risk of complications which the Podiatrist will discuss with you
  • Post-operative infection is the most common side effect – this can be minimised by following instructions for appropriate care. If the site becomes infected, you will be required to get antibiotics from your doctor
  • There is a small risk of regrowth of the nail