An ingrown toenail develops when the sides of the toenail grow into the surrounding skin.
The nail curls and pierces the skin, which becomes red, swollen and tender. The toe can also feel painful when pressure is placed on it. The big toe is most likely to be affected, either on one or on both sides. The medical name for an ingrown toenail is onychocryptosis.
What causes ingrown toenails?
There are several possible causes of an ingrown toenail, including:
- incorrectly cut toenails
- tight-fitting shoes, socks or tights
- excessive sweating or poor foot hygiene
- nail infections
- natural shape of the toenail
- Read more about the causes of an ingrown toenail.
- Treating ingrown toenails
There are several things you can do yourself to treat mild ingrown toenails and prevent them from getting worse, including:
- practice good foot hygiene by taking care of your feet and washing them regularly using soap and water, trim the nail straight across to help prevent it continuing to dig into the surrounding skin.
- Wear comfortable shoes that are not too tight and provide space around your toes
- Surgery may be recommended in cases where an ingrown toenail is more severe. This may involve either removing a section of the affected toenail or removing the whole nail.
Left untreated, an ingrown toenail can cause the toe to become infected. The symptoms of an ingrown toenail will vary depending on how severe it is.
Mild symptoms of an ingrown toenail may include:
- inflammation of the skin at the end of the toe
- pain if pressure is placed on the toe
- red skin in the affected area
- a build-up of fluid (oedema) in the area surrounding the toe
- Moderate symptoms
Moderate symptoms of an ingrown toenail may include:
- increased inflammation of the toe
- white or yellow coloured pus coming from the affected area
- infection of the toe
- Severe symptoms
Severe symptoms of an ingrown toenail may include:
- severe pain, redness and inflammation
- an overgrowth of skin around the affected toe (hypertrophy)
- severe infection of the
Partial/Total Nail Avulsion with Phenolisation of Nail Matrix
Nail surgery is the treatment of choice for recurrent ingrown toenails or toenails that are too painful to treat without the use of local analgesia.
The procedure itself involves injecting the toe with local anesthetic to produce a numb toe. A section of nail is then removed from the affected side and a chemical called phenol is rubbed into the resultant gap, this kills off that part of the nail bed thus preventing the portion of nail from regrowing. A dressing is then applied which is kept in place until your follow up appointment in 2-3 days time. After this time you will have to dress the toe yourself with melolin and surgical tape. The normal healing time is up to 6-8 weeks but it is quite common for the toe to heal a lot faster.
The success rate for this procedure is approximately 95% with possible complications including regrowth of the nail, infection in the wound and delayed healing.