Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown Toenails

What is an ingrown toenail?

An ingrown toenail is a nail growing into the skin like a nail spike or thorn causing a wound, cut or discomfort. Often you can get little secondary corns and hard skin which builds up at the pressure junction of the nail/skin fold which makes it even more uncomfortable.

Ingrown Toenails

4 reasons why you might be getting recurring ingrown toenails.

  1. Genetics – you inherit the nail shape of your parents. A wide and deep nail plate is more likely to become ingrown 
  2. Shoes – your shoes are too small or too big
  3. Incorrect cutting – you are cutting your nails too short or leaving a nail spike in the side
  4. Nail picking – breaking off part of the nail causes it to fray and grow in different directions into the surrounding skin

How do you fix it?

See a Podiatrist as soon as you can. An ingrown toenail is not something that usually just goes away by itself. It’s also much easier to treat in the earlier stages of skin irritation.

A trained and skilled Podiatrist will painlessly remove the nail spicule from your skin. This should not cause you any discomfort. If the ingrown toenail is quite severe local anaesthetic can be used to numb the pain.

Nail surgery

For some people, the ingrown toenail is either too deep or just keeps coming back despite conservative management. In this case, a minor nail procedure is recommended. This is called a ‘partial nail avulsion’. This is something we do in our rooms at The Foot Studio in Claremont. Podiatrists are trained to safely and effectively execute this procedure.

The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic via injection into the toe to numb the area.

The portion of the nail to be removed nail is then gently lifted and resected, generally without the toe being cut or stitched. Both sides or the entire nail may be removed this way. A chemical is used to assist in preventing nail regrowth. There is a very small risk that the nail spike can re-grow.

The patient is able to walk immediately afterwards, however, assistance getting home is strongly recommended.

What can you do if you or family member has an ingrown toenail right now?

  1. Begin daily saline flushes for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Apply an antiseptic cream under a sterilised island dressing
  3. See your Podiatrist asap
  4. If you think it might be infected then also book an appointment with your GP to discuss the option of starting antibiotics. Note that if you begin antibiotics you still need to remove the irritating nail spike for it to completely subside. Just taking antibiotics will not completely heal your ingrown toenail.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call us on 0413 288 698.

Laura, Podiatrist, The Foot Studio


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