What Is An Ingrown Toenail?

The Podiatry Team

An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the toenail becomes embedded in the skin. Ingrown toenails can cause pain that will stop you from keeping active.

An ingrown toenail is a common condition that occurs when the corner of your nail grows into your skin. This condition often affects your big toe. It can result in pain and discomfort, redness, swelling, and serious infection—if not treated correctly.

What does an ingrown toenail look like?

A standard ingrown toenail will usually exhibit: 

  • Redness around the ingrown part of the nail.
  • Some swelling up around the nail.
  • Pain and tenderness, either by pressing against the skin or bearing weight on the toe.

ingrown toenail

These symptoms are typical and not usually much reason for concern. However, there are times when the case is especially severe or the toe might become infected. It is important to see your podiatrist if you have any of the following problems:

  • Your toe is causing you a great deal of pain, or the pain is interfering with your daily life.
  • Your toe is oozing pus or discharge.
  • There is a growing or radiating redness that seems to be spreading away from the toe.
  • You have diabetes or another condition that interferes with your circulation, making any kind of sore or injury on your foot more dangerous.

Never try to wait out or perform self-care on a toe that might be infected or is at risk. Be safe, be seen - give us a call!  

What causes ingrown toenails?

There are a few different ways that a toenail can start “going rogue” and digging into the skin by some of the following:

  • Trauma
  • Footwear
  • Incorrect cutting
  • Simply being born that way and the shape of nail plate

How do I treat it?

It is important to never treat an ingrown toenail yourself. You should always see a podiatrist for treatment. Left untreated, it will lead to ongoing pain and infection.

In patients with medical conditions neglecting and ingrown toenail can lead to serious complications such as below-knee amputation.

It is especially important for people with diabetes or poor circulation to seek treatment early in order to prevent further complications, including amputation. We will advise on the best treatment plan for you nail.

In cases where the infection or pain continues, a simple ingrown toenail surgery may be performed under a local anaesthetic to permanently remove a small portion of the nail.

How to prevent ingrown toenails

  • Practice good foot hygiene.
  • Cut your toenails straight across, making sure you can see the edges of each nail.
  • Use a file to reduce sharp edges if necessary.
  • Never cut your toenails down the side.
  • If you have difficulty cutting your own nails seek the advice of a podiatrist.
  • Make sure your shoes are the correct size for your feet.

If the nail is very painful and you are waiting for an appointment with us you can try:

  • Soaking your foot in warm water for 15-20 minutes, 2-3 times per day. This will soften the nail, and can help relieve pain and some swelling, too. Feel free to add Epsom salts to the soak, if you wish. Completely dry the foot when removed and if the toe is ‘oozing’ apply a plaster.

If it has been a few days and you have not seen any improvement—or if things have even gotten worse!—it’s time to give us a call on 02380 814903.