Ingrown Toenail

Definition

An ingrown toenail is a very common condition in which the corner or side of a toenail grows into the soft flesh of the toe.  The skin along the edge of the nail can either be growing over the nail, or the nail begins to grow underneath the skin. Ingrown toenails usually affect the big toe, but any toenail can become ingrown.

Symptoms

Ingrown toenail symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the toe along one or both sides of the nail
  • Redness around the toenail
  • Swelling of the toe around the nail
  • Infection of the tissue around your toenail
  • Pus around the toenail

    Causes

    There are many causes of ingrown toenails. These include:

    Wearing ill-fitting footwear: Ingrown toenails can occur when extra pressure is placed on your toe. This pressure is caused by shoes, socks or stockings that are too tight and crowd your toes.   This is particularly the case for people who do a lot of walking or participate in sport. Shoes that are too loose can also lead to ingrown nails, so ensuring shoes are the correct fit is very important.

    Incorrectly cut toenails: Toenails should not be cut too short or in a way that is inappropriate for the toenail shape. This can cause the nail to curl downward and grow into the skin, or a small piece called a spicule may be missed which then digs in as the nails grows out.  Poor eyesight, inability to reach the toes easily, or having thick nails can make it hard to properly trim nails.

    Toenail injury: Stubbing your toe or another toe injury can lead to an ingrown toenail. Sometimes the injury can cause the nail to permanently change shape. In other case the situation is temporary and the nail may grow back to the same shape as before.

    Heredity: Some people are born with toenails that curve and grow downward or are fan shaped and catch at the corners.  Others have toenails that are disproportionally big for their toes. Sometimes other foot and toes deformities contribute to a change in the way the nails grows.

    Aging:  As people get older, their feet can change shape and so too can the nails.

     

    Treatment

    At Ned Buckley Podiatry, we provide the following treatments for ingrown toenails:

  • Immediate diagnosis and conservative treatment with specialised equipment
  • Management of infection
  • Conservative treatment management plan
  • Minor Surgical treatment options
  • Footcare and footwear advise

    There are many different ways to manage an ingrown toe nail and this is dependant on the presentation and history associated with the problem.  In some cases, a one off treatment is all that is necessary, however if this is recurring problem then a management plan will be necessary. Minor surgical treatment under local anaesthetic can be very effective in cases where the problem is likely to be recurrent.

    If you have an ingrown toenail, and there is inflammation, swelling, pain or discharge, you should see a podiatrist as soon as possible. Ingrown nails that are left can become excruciatingly painful and can easily become infected. People with diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, or other circulatory disorders must avoid any form of self-treatment should seek immediate podiatric advise at the first signs of an ingrown toenail, as it can lead to more severe complications.