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Treatment of Ingrown Toenails at Care For Feet

What is the cause of an ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenails commonly occur on the sides of your big toenails often as a result of:

  • Cutting your nails incorrectly or too short
  • Sporting activities; your feet may sweat more making the skin softer and easier for the nail to penetrate
  • Wearing shoes that don’t fit correctly
  • A traumatic injury to the toenail causing deformity
  • Thickened nails caused by a fungal infection
  • Wide fan-shaped toenails

An ingrown toenail can be swollen and tender but can eventually become increasingly painful, red and infected.  Your skin may start to grow over the edge of the nail plate.  This excessive growth of skin is called hyper-granulation tissue and can easily bleed if bumped.

What should I do if i have an ingrown toenail?

  • Soak your foot in cooled, boiled salt water 2-3 times a day initially
  • Keep your toenail covered with a clean dry dressing and change daily
  • If this does not settle the inflammation it is advisable to contact the podiatry clinic to determine the best course of treatment for your condition
  • People with Diabetes and/or a poor blood supply to the feet, should seek medical attention immediately

How can a Podiatrist help?

  • Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed if an infection is present, however we may simply trim the nail to remove the offending nail spike, relieving the pressure and allowing the tissue to heal on its own
  • Recurring ingrown toenails may require a simple surgical procedure performed in the Podiatry clinic for a permanent solution. The procedure involves injecting the toe with a small amount of local anaesthetic, removing the nail spike and applying a chemical to prevent the portion of the nail regrowing. It is not always necessary to remove all the nail but only the offending edge 

How can I prevent an ingrown toenail?

  • Follow the natural curvature of your toe using the white band on your nail as a guide and cut the nail across, filing any sharp edges
  • Avoid cutting deep down the side of the nails or ‘digging’ with sharp instruments
  • Ensure that your shoes and socks are not too tight
  • Maintain good foot hygiene by washing your feet and changing socks daily
  • Seek advice if your feet perspire excessively

Click here to listen to Madeleine explaining treatment options for ingrown toenails.

Surgical removal of an ingrown toenail