Ingrown Toenails

The nail (often the big toe nail) grows into the skin, down the sides of the nail, becoming embedded as the nail grows, which can cause it to weep or bleed. If it has a sharp edge (usually at the side) this digs into the flesh causing pain, irritation and possibly infection. The nail is tender to any pressure.


Why Does it happen?
Poor foot, toe, or nail structure, or a particular style of walking, excessive sweating, or direct injury, all contribute. The most common cause is cutting your toe nails incorrectly. Nails cut too short, or down the sides, may leave a sharp piece of nail which pierces the groove as the nails grow. Tight footwear and hosiery can only make matters worse.

How can I prevent it?
You can help prevent the problem developing by (1) keeping your feet clean with regular bathing. Dry them thoroughly, and apply a foot powder lightly. Wear clean cotton socks every day, and correctly fitting shoes that allow the feet to 'breathe'. This is especially important for people whose feet sweat excessively; (2) cutting your toe nails correctly with proper nail clippers. You should cut the nails to the shape of the end of the toe.

If elderly or diabetic, you should seek professional advice regarding nail cutting. If your eyesight is poor or if you have difficulty cutting your nails, consult a state registered chiropodist, who will be able to help you

I've got an ingrown toenail, what do I do?
In the early stages (the first few days), if the toe is inflamed, bathe the foot in a warm saline foot bath. Three tablespoonfuls of salt dissolved in a basin of warm water will help prevent infection and reduce inflammation. Don't cut the nail. Put on a clean dressing. Don't delay The sooner the problem is dealt with, the easier it will be to treat effectively. Seek advice as quickly as possible, especially if you are diabetic or have some other long-term illness which requires special care. If the problem persists, come and see us and we will advise you of the best treatment for you.

How will you treat my condition?
This varies, depending on how severe the problem is. All treatments can be carried out quickly in a state registered chiropodist's surgery, and you'll be back on your feet in no time at all. If there is no infection, chiropodists will usually smooth the edge of the nail and remove any offending splinters.

If the nail is infected or weeping, they can reduce the inflammation and remove the splinter under local anaesthetic. They will cover the toe with a dressing and protect it with padding, applying appropriate medicaments which will reduce the infection. You will be able to walk straight away, though it is advisable to rest the foot as much as possible, and relieve any pressure on the toe

How can I prevent the problem from reoccurring?
Cutting the toe nails properly and wearing correct footwear should stop the problem recurring. If the problem returns, or is severe, chiropodists will probably recommend that you have the side of the nail, and the nail bed, removed under local anaesthetic. This simple operation produces a good cosmetic effect, and the problem is not likely to recur. Sometimes the whole nail and nail bed is removed. HPC registered Podiatrists and Chiropodists are experts at dealing with ingrown toenails and have pioneered many new nail surgery techniques.