Ingrown nails occur when the edge of a nail either applies too much pressure or pierces the neighbouring skin, causing an open wound. It can be a VERY painful condition and one of the most common issues we address as Podiatrists on a daily basis.
If left untreated, ingrown toenails can lead to infection, severe pain, difficulties finding comfortable shoes and long term damage to nail growth. Podiatrist’s can offer a variety of techniques to manage your nail and offer long term relief, which is why we should be the first point of call when it comes to ingrown toe nails.
Causes and Prevention of Ingrown Toenails
Many factors can play a role in the development of an ingrown toe nail;
- Incorrect nail trimming, poor cutting technique or picking at nails
- Trauma (stubbing your toe/kicking sports)
- Poorly fitting footwear
- Biomechanical factors
- Abnormally shaped nail
- Heredity nail conditions
- Sweaty feet
- Older individuals who have reduced mobility/limited eyesight who may no longer be able to adequately care for nails
Suggestions on how to prevent an ingrown toe nail include:
- Seeing your MyPod podiatrist early if an ingrown toe nail is suspected
- Trimming nails straight across, not digging down the sides
- Wearing shoes that are rounded with enough depth and width
- Cutting nails after showering to prevent chipping/cracking
Whilst many will try and manage their ingrown toenails at home, we strongly recommend avoiding this as more often than not this can lead to irregular shaped nail edges and the potential for infections.
There is a range of treatment options for your ingrown toenail. Initially your myPod podiatrist will conservatively and gently remove the irritating edge of nail. They will then look at debriding any thickened callus which may be creating extra pressure and if necessary, recommend an antibiotic.
Surgery may be required when an ingrown toenail repeatedly gets infected, is continually painful, affects the patient’s ability to wear shoes, or the ingrown nail begins to inhibit work, sport, or other activities. Your myPod podiatrist may discuss with you a permanent nail removal, called a “Partial Nail Avulsion”. This involves removing a small wedge of nail and then cauterising the side to prevent it from regrowing into the corner.