Ingrown toenails

When a toenail is ‘ingrown’ it’s curved and grows into the skin, usually at the sides of the nail. This ‘digging in’ of the nail can cause pain, redness and inflammation.
If an ingrown nail causes a break in the skin, bacteria may enter and cause an infection in the area.

What causes it?

The commonest cause of ingrown toenails is cutting your nails too short. However, they can also be caused by:

  • Fungal infections
  • Losing a nail due to damage during sports activities
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • In some people there is a family history of ingrown toenails

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Fluid discharge from the skin edge
  • Redness
  • Pressure when wearing shoes

Can it become worse?

If left untreated, an infection can develop, making the problem worse.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will be able to diagnose the condition from a physical examination and discussion of your symptoms.

How is it treated?

  • You may be prescribed antibiotics if there is an infection
  • If the problem continues, you may need to have a procedure to remove part, or all, of the toenail

Will the toenail grow back?

The operation is designed to allow the toenail to grow back straight because only part of the nail and its nail-bed (where the nail grows from) is removed. In some cases, often in older people, the whole nail-bed can be removed, in which case the nail will not re-grow.

Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.


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