What is an Ingrown Toenail?

An ingrown toenail, also known as onychocryptosis, is a nail which grows into the flesh or sulcus, on the side of the nail. Ingrown toenails are very painful and result in inflammation of the surrounding tissues. If left untreated an ingrown toenail can lead to infection.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain and tenderness around one or both sides of the toenail
  • Redness in the sulcus tissue around the side of the toenail
  • Swelling of the tissue around the toenail
  • Pus, discharge, or signs of infection around the toenail

Causes for Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are caused by a nail spike or sharp corner of nail digging into the tissue around the nail. This is usually the result of trauma or poor nail cutting technique. Other factors that can make you more prone to ingrown toenails include having excessively curved (involuted) toenails and wearing poor fitting footwear.
Your gait and the way you walk may also make you more prone to ingrown toenails. Feet that push off the side of the big toe will generally result in nails which curve inward more and this can increase the risk of an ingrown toenail.

Treatment for Ingrown Toenails

Treatment involves a thorough assessment and determining the cause of the ingrown toenails. Conservative therapy typically involves removing the nail segment and re-shaping the nail plate. This option is often successful however in some instances the nail fragment needs to be permanently removed this involves a simple surgical procedure which is conducted under anaesthetic in sterile environment. This procedure permanently removes the ingrowing nail and addresses this condition long term.

I am thinking about having nail surgery, what is involved?

If the ingrown nail is treated early, treatment is usually fast and effective, but chronic sufferers may require ingrown toenail surgery. This simple “walk in and walk out” procedure is performed at our clinic rooms by one of our highly trained podiatrists. Nail surgery takes just 1 – 1.5 hours and will help cure an ingrown toenail for life.

Benefits of Nail Surgery

  • To cure the ingrowing toenail
  • To resolve pain or problematic nail conditions
  • To eliminate or reduce risk of / from infection

NB. Any surgical or invasive procedure, including nail surgery performed under a local anaesthetic, carries risk. Before proceeding with nail surgery we always advise patients to seek opinion and consultation with one of our qualified podiatrists first.

Initial Appointment – Assessment

An initial assessment is essential before any nail surgery appointment can be scheduled. At this appointment the podiatrist will diagnose your ingrown toenail and take a detailed medical history to find out if you are suitable for ingrown toenail surgery. They will then explain the procedure in depth, quote you on associated costs and schedule your nail surgery appointment of you choose to proceed.

At Enable Podiatry we understand that there is often urgency with ingrown toenail surgery so we will always make sure you can get a nail surgery appointment, even if its required at short notice.

Nail Surgery – Procedure

Ingrown toenail surgery is a simple “walk in walk out” procedure performed by our podiatrists under sterile conditions at our Enable Podiatry clinic rooms. You should bring in some open toed sandals or thongs for this appointment as you will have a bulky dressing on the toe post surgery. Please also feel free to bring in music, headphones or anything else that helps you relax.

Ingrown toenail surgery consists of the following simple 4-step procedure:

  • An injection of local anaesthetic is administered to the toe.
  • The ingrown section of nail is cut out at the root.
  • The nail bed is chemically sterilised to prevent regrowth of the offending section of nail.
  • The toe is cleaned and appropriately dressed with antiseptic to minimise post-op infection.

Post-op Care

Your podiatrist will schedule you a redressing appointment 1 week following surgery. At this appointment the podiatrist will check the healing progress of your toe whilst making sure there is no regrowth or infection. A second redressing appointment is usually scheduled 3 – 4 weeks post surgery.

Redressing appointments are an important aspect of the treatment plan. It is vital that you attend these appointments with your podiatrist to minimise infection and to ensure the surgical site is healing.


Ingrown toenail surgery at our podiatry clinic is “walk in and walk out” so there is literally no time off your feet. Post nail surgery you will have a big bulky dressing on your toe which you are required to keep dry for 2-5 days and to wear open toed sandals or thongs. Following removal of this dressing you can get back into normal footwear and resume normal daily living activities. Post-surgery information will be given to you at the time of the procedure which includes after care instructions.

Most patients find they can resume most sporting activities after 2 weeks, whilst full healing of your toe takes approximately 6 – 8 weeks. Please speak to your podiatrist if you have any concerns or questions during recovery.


Nail surgery at Enable Podiatry is a very effective procedure. We estimate cases of nail segment regrowth at less than 1%. There are cases where the nail segment can regrow as no procedure is 100% however, we utilise latest evidence-based methods to ensure a successful result.

Can I drive home after the surgery?

We advise against driving home this is due to the anaesthetic that will be still in your body. This can impair your reactions and also your ability to use the car operation pedals. We recommend asking a family member or friend to collect you after the surgery, we are happy to call them on your behalf as the procedure is concluding.

Do I need time off school/work?

Usually we recommend having the surgery at the end of the week therefore you are able to take the weekend to rest up and recover. Due to the bulk of the dressing it can be difficult to find into shoes, which can cause pain from the pressure of shoes pressing on the toe. We suggest wearing open-toe shoes or sandals for the next 3-5 days post-surgery if possible. When you come into the clinic for your one week post op review, we replace the dressing with a smaller dressing enabling you to wear normal footwear. If you are unsure we as podiatrists are able to provide you with medical certificates if time off work is required, just let us know at the time of your surgery.

Interested in finding out more information? 

Contact our friendly team and book an appointment today!