What are ingrown toenails?

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.

For further information regarding management of ingrowing nails please visit the nail surgery information page.

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