Treatment of Ingrown Toenails

What is an Ingrown Toenail ?

Ingrown toenails are a very common condition that presents to the podiatrist. An ingrown toenail is a very lay term that a person uses when they feel pain on the side of the toenail. This typically will involve inflammation, swelling and infection. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes there is neither redness nor infection, which can suggest another reason for the pain.

How does an ingrown toenail occur ?

An ingrown toenail is caused by the nail piercing the skin beside it leading to inflammation. If the skin is broken, this can lead to a local infection also.

Common causes of ingrown toenail are:

  • Incorrect cutting of the nail, leaving it too short or with a sharp corner or leaving a nail spicule.
  • Tight footwear can cause the nail and the skin to be pressed firmly together
  • Curved toenail can predispose you to an ingrown due to its odd shape
  • Trauma through sports or hitting a hard object with your toe
  • During a re-growth of a new nail
  • Pedicure salons can cut nails incorrectly, leaving you with a sharp corner or nail spicule

Other causes that commonly get confused with ingrown toenail.

  • Hard skin underneath the edge of the nail
  • Curved toenail pressing firmly on the skin
  • Thickening of the toenail due to trauma, repeated stress or fungus infection

Initial home remedies for ingrown toenails are:

  • Bathe in salty water foot bath for 10min nightly .
  • Apply betadine or another antiseptic during the day and cover with a bandaid
  • Avoid using closed footwear, to reduce any pressure
  • If footwear must be used, keep it as wide and deep in the toebox (Eg Sport shoe)
  • If it it doesn’t improve after 3days, then see the podiatrist.

Podiatry treatments for ingrown toenails:

  • Initial treatment is usually a small simple removal of the nail corner that is piercing the skin followed by an anti-septic dressing
  • If the problem is repeatedly occurring, then more permanent solution is nail surgery.
  • Nail surgery is carried out within the clinic, under a local anaesthetic. Firstly the podiatrist needs to determine if you are suitable candidate for the procedure.
  • Nail braces which are not common but are available at our clinic. They involve a simple wire on the nail that will attempt to straighten the curved edges .

Ingrown toenails are the most painful conditions that patients present with yet, they are so often so simple to treat. It is important that treatment begins as soon as possible, otherwise it gets more painful and difficult to treat.


Dr Vanessa Hadchiti (Podiatrist)