Ingrowing toenails

What is an ingrowing toenail?

An ingrowing toenail is a nail that has pierced the skin and can feel a little like a splinter. Some nails can be very involuted (curved around) and not pierce the skin and still be very sore and inflamed. An ingrowing toenail that has pierced the skin can become infected so you may see pus or some blood.

What causes an ingrowing toenail?

This may be caused by many factors, usually the main culprit is cutting toenails incorrectly or picking at your nails. The way you walk as well as wearing tight socks and shoes can also cause this.

Who gets ingrowing toenails?

Anyone can get one. Sporty people who have sweaty feet are more prone as are people who pick their nails or cut them too short. You may be genetically prone to having involuted or ingrowing nails if your toes or nails curl round in a certain way.

Treatment options

Learn how to cut your nails properly or just file them. If you cannot reach your nails to cut them, then it would be advisable to seek help from a registered podiatrist, especially if you have diabetes.

If you have an infected ingrowing toenail, your Podiatrist can issue you with antibiotics. Once the infection has settled you should then come back to have the troublesome nail cut away properly.

If the nail is consistently causing pain and repeatedly becomes ingrown or infected then it may be worth considering a partial or total nail removal. This is carried out under local anaesthetic by your podiatrist. Once the nail is removed, the nail matrix is treated with a chemical called phenol which prevents nail regrowth. It is only minor surgery and will take 6-10 weeks to heal depending on the patient.


If the nail is cut away, then the problem should be resolved very quickly as long as the causative problem has been eradicated (poor nail cutting technique, poorly fitting shoes).
In the case of partial nail removal, the nail will look normal (just slightly narrower) and the skin at the side of the toe will just grow up to the side of the nail. In the case of full nail removal, the nail bed will harden and look like normal skin. Ladies have found once it has healed up they are able to paint the hard skin with varnish and the results are hardly noticeable. Regrowth of the nail after its removal occurs in rare cases and a repeat procedure may be required later on.

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