Ingrown Toenails: The pain and the cure.

Ingrown Toenails: The pain and the cure.

Have you ever felt the sensation of the bed sheets putting too much pressure on your toes? Or does getting back into your tights and boots in winter create pain in your toes?

It could be the start of an ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenails can strike at any age and they can cause far more pain that you imagine a toenail could cause!

So what is an ingrown toenail?

This is a condition when the edges or corners of your nail grow into the skin next to your nail. It most commonly affects the big toe nails but can occur on any toenail. An ingrown toenail can become painful and inflamed (tender, red, hot, swollen) if left untreated and the nail penetrates the skin, this can then lead to infection where pus may be present.

What causes ingrown toenails?

We see ingrown toenails all year round, but we find that in the winter months that the occurrence rises, as we head back into our winter boots and shoes leading to increased pressure on the toes.

The way toenails are cut is particularly important. Cutting toenails too short or not straight across can lead to a change in the way the nail grows back.

A tendency to pick or pull at the corners of your nails, (also known as onychotillomania) can change the way in which they grow

What can you do to treat ingrown toenails?

Like most things in life, prevention is better than cure, we recommend:

  • Wearing shoes that fit properly in length, width and depth of toe box
  • Not wearing tights/stocking or socks that are too restrictive around the toes
  • Trimming your nails correctly – cutting straight across the nail and never cutting too short or rounding the corners or cutting down the sides of the nails

Should your ingrown toenail become inflamed or infected, it is always best to consult a podiatrist for treatment. Your podiatrist will advise the best course of action for your toe with the primary aim of reducing pain, inflammation, infection and recurrence.

What should I do if my nail needs more help?

The majority of cases will require the podiatrist removing the offending spicule of nail with specialised equipment, this should be relatively painless but if the infection and pain are high, a local anaesthetic can be given to reduce the pain. The toe will then be dressed, keeping it clean, to reduce infection, you will likely carry out dressings at home for a period of time. On occasion, if the infection is bad, you may require a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

Should the ingrown toe nail become a re-occurring problem your podiatrist is able to perform a small in-chair surgery called a Partial Nail Avulsion (PNA) to ensure the nail does not grow back again.

What next?

The good news is that the majority of ingrown toenails can be treated with a few appointments with the podiatrist. If you or a family member is experiencing any of the symptoms of an ingrown toenail, make a booking with your podiatrist today.