Ingrown nails cause pain and redness on the side of your toenail, making it painful to walk, wear shoes, or even feel the pressure of a bed sheet on your toe.
An ingrown nail occurs when part of your toenail pierces the skin that surrounds it and grows inwards. This is much like having a splinter in your toe, except that the offending nail edge is usually difficult to see, reach or remove. As a result, you may experience:
Ingrown toenails may occur on one or both sides of the toenail. While 95% of ingrown toenails that our podiatrists see and treat are at the big toe, they can affect any of the toes, and in young children as well as adults.
The most common causes of ingrown nails that we see include:
The shape of the toenail can also play a role, especially where the nail is particularly involuted or curved. This is often linked to uncontrollable genetic factors that dictate the features and shape of the nail.
To help reduce the pain from your ingrown toenail until you are able to have it professionally treated, you can try:
As ingrown toenails can get worse, and can also become infected without the right care, we highly recommend against ‘bathroom surgery’ - using unclean tools to dig down into your toenail to try to get some relief. We absolutely understand the need to try to get relief from your ingrown toenails, but in our patients’ reported experience, this does more harm than good.
We’ve often heard of patients cutting a ‘V’ in the centre of the nail as an attempt to treat or discourage their ingrown toenail. Unfortunately, this action having any benefits is a myth. Aside from there being no studies to support the effectiveness of this method, it also goes against the natural way that ingrown toenails grow - that is, that the nail growing cells are located at the base of the nail (much like how the hair-growing cells are located on your head), and so the action you take to the end of the nail has no impact on these cells to alter the way that nail is produced. In fact - it may do more harm than good if your nail catches on your socks or sheets and painfully pulls at the nail.
Here at Matt Raden Podiatry, our trusted and experienced podiatrists have two key ways that we successfully treat ingrown toenails: conservatively or surgically.
Our conservative nail care appointments are non-surgical in nature, and are a good option for those who are experiencing an ingrown toenail for the first time, or where the cause is a one-off and is unlikely to recur in the future.
During this appointment, we will remove the offending nail spicule, removing it from the skin where it has become embedded. We will then dress the toe, and teach you how to continue to dress it at home to reduce your likelihood of infection. We will give you advice on footwear, particularly where your shoes are likely to have contributed to the development of your ingrown nail. We’ll also discuss the best-practice principles of nail cutting, and advice on salt water and foot baths and how they can be used to support your toe to heal.
For those who have had an ingrown toenail before, and where the ingrown nail is likely to continue to recur periodically, we may recommend a surgical approach. Don’t be put off by the term ‘surgical’ - this is a minor procedure that our podiatrists perform in our clinic several times every week. The two types of nail surgeries we offer are:
If you have pain in your toe, our team is here to help - and to ensure you have the best experience doing so. We’re proud to go above and beyond for our patients, focusing not only on treating your ingrown nail pain, but also helping prevent it from recurring in the future.