Ingrown Toenail Treatment

What is it?

An ingrown toenail tends to develop when the sides of the nail grow into the skin surrounding it. It is most often the big toe that is affected, either on one or both sides. The nail curls into and pierces the skin, which very often becomes red, swollen and tender.

Why does it occur?

There are a number of reasons why an ingrown toenail can develop: cutting your toenails too short, or cutting the edges; wearing shoes, socks or tights that fit too tightly; sweaty feet; stubbing your toe; or the naturally curved shape of the toenail. 

What are the symptoms?

It can be painful with ingrown toenails when pressure is applied to the affected toe, and there is often inflammation of the skin at the end of the toe. You could experience a build-up of fluid or an overgrowth of skin around the affected toe. It is common to also have  bleeding, and white or yellow pus being omitted from the affected area. 

How is it diagnosed?

Your consultant can diagnose an ingrown toenail by carefully examining the toenail and the  skin surrounding it.

How is it treated?

Non-surgical treatment

Nail edge removal involves removing a thin edge of nail to provide immediate and temporary relief. If patients  experience a recurrence of their ingrowing toenail, other options will be considered.
Brace technology is when an adhesive is used to apply a transparent brace to the entire nail edge, which encourages it to lift. 

Surgical treatment

It may be, in more severe cases, that a part of or your full toenail may need removing. This will be done using scissors and other special tools, under local anaesthetic. Your consultant will discuss with you which option is best in your case, and explain the procedure more fully. 

Treatment options

Nail edge removal

Toenail brace technology

Part or full nail removal

The One Orthopaedics team specialists

Julie Kohls

Consultant Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon FRCS (Tr & Orth)