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Ingrown toenail: How to prevent, manage and treat an ingrown nail.

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

What is an ingrown toenail?

The medical term for an ingrown toenail is Onychocryptosis which comes from the Greek term ‘Onyx’ (meaning nail) and ‘Kryptos’ (meaning hidden).

An ingrown toenail is a painful condition in which the side of a nail has pierced through the adjacent skin. This injury, if left untreated, can become infected and cause hypergranulation tissue to form which is an accumulation of tissue in response to trauma and infection.

Signs you may have an ingrown toenail:

. Pain to the toe with pressure

· Tender, swollen skin

· Redness

If left untreated, symptoms worsen and include:

· Throbbing pain

· Bleeding

· Pus

What causes an ingrown nail?

Trauma – this includes trauma such as stubbing your toe or dropping something on it, or activities that cause repetitive trauma such as football.

Incorrect nail cutting – Cutting the nails too short can cause the skin next to the nail to fold over the nail.

Footwear – shoes or socks that fit too tightly.

Hereditary – certain nail shapes such as a wide or curved nail plate can be inherited and increase the risk of an ingrown nail.

Preventing an ingrown toenail

Many cases of ingrown toenail can be prevented by:

Correct nail trimming – Cut the nail fairly straight and use a file to smooth any rough edges. Leave enough length to be able to get your fingernail under the sides and end of the nail. The corners of the nail and the white ‘free edge’ at the tip should be visible. Do not repeatedly trim the nail borders as this can make the condition worse.

Well fitting shoes and socks – shoes that are to tight in the toe area can cause excess pressure.

Home treatment

If the nail is causing mild discomfort and skin is not broken, home treatment may include:

Soaking the foot for a few minutes in warm water

Wear wide, comfortable shoes or sandals

Over the counter pain relief

We don't recommend using cotton wool or dental floss under the corner of the nail as this method needs repeating daily and risks infection if anything gets left under the nail. It does not usually provide a long-term solution.

Podiatry treatment

If home treatment has failed, the skin is broken or there are signs of infection, a visit to your local podiatrist will help resolve the problem.

Many people see their GP 1st as they think the toe is infected. With an ingrown toenail, the skin will become inflamed and look infected as the body is reacting to the nail digging into the skin. Even if there is infection present, the problem will not resolve, even with antibiotics, unless the offending piece of nail is removed!

How do Ayres Health treat an ingrown toenail?

Podiatry treatment usually starts conservatively with the podiatrist trimming the nail to remove any nail spike and advising on future nail care.

If conservative treatment fails and the problem becomes a recurring issue, we can provide nail surgery for a more long-term resolution.

What is nail surgery?

Nail surgery is a simple surgical procedure that involves removing all or part of the nail. We can usually remove a section of the nail leaving the remaining nail intact. To help prevent the nail from growing back, a chemical called phenol is used during the procedure. The toe is anaesthetised before any treatment to allow for a pain free procedure.

What are the treatment costs?

Conservative treatment ranges from £37.50 to £42.50

Nail surgery starts at £295 for 1 big toe

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