What are they?

An ingrown toe nail is when one of your nails grows into the surrounding skin. 

Ingrown toenails will usually cause pain, redness and swelling and if left untreated can often result in an infection. 

The ingrown nail may also apply pressure to the skin in the area without penetrating the skin.  This is not technically an ingrown toe nail although it can still be very painful. 

A corn or callus is also common down the side of the nail and is a reaction to the pressure from the nail rather than the nail actually penetrating the skin.

How do they occur?

There are several reasons that ingrown toenails occur including:
  • Poor nail cutting technique where a spike (portion of the nail) is left behind.  This spike can then grown into the skin as the nail continues to grow.
  • Very curved (involuted) nails can also grow down into the skin.  These ‘curved’ types of nails are often inherited but can also be associated with a trauma or pressure from your shoes.
  • A brittle nail can also get trapped between the nail and skin; brittle nail types are often associated with poor blood supply or a fungal infection.

HOT TIP: Tight footwear is a major cause of ingrown toe nails, this can increases pressure between the skin and the nail. 

What should I do?

Some self-management strategies for ingrown toenails include:
  • Cutting nails straight across.  Do not cut down the sides or cut the nail too short.
  • Avoid wearing shoes or socks that are too tight.
  • Keep feet clean to avoid getting an ingrown toe nail infected
If you think your toenail is infected you should:
  • Bathe the toe in salt water and dress it with betadine and a bandaid

**Please note that if you have circulation problems or diabetes you should always see your Podiatrist before electing to perform any self-management strategies on your ingrown toe nail. 

What will a Podiatrist do?

A Podiatrist can manage an ingrown toenail in several different ways and treatment can be either conservative or slightly more invasive. 

Treatment options include:
  • Removal of the nail spike or the curved corner of nail that may be causing pain.  This may require a local anaesthetic depending on the presentation.
  • Antibiotics can sometimes be required to help the infection clear
  • Packing the side of a curved nail can help the nail to grow out and away from the skin rather than into it
  • Regular treatment by a Podiatrist may be needed to prevent the nail becoming a problem. 

If all else fails…

Surgical management of an ingrown toenail may be required if the issue is severe and conservative treatment options have failed.  This is a relatively simple procedure that your Podiatrist will perform in the clinic.  This is a very successful treatment option for long term relief.

Check out our video on ingrown toenails: https://youtu.be/H6JSdOAheuI

Want an opinion on your ingrown toenail? Book GAP FREE this NOVEMBER:


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