Ingrown toenails

An ingrown nail is known as onychocryptosis. An ingrown toenail develops when the sides of the toenail grow into the surrounding skin.

The nail curls and pierces the skin, which becomes red, swollen and tender. The toe can also be painful when pressure is placed on it. Ingrowing toenails most commonly affect your big toe but can affect other toenails as well.

Who suffers from ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails affect both men and women. They are often more common in younger people as they are more likely to pick their nails, compared to older people who may not be able to reach their toes!

Active, sporty people are particularly prone as their feet tend to sweat more. This can cause the skin around the toenail to soften and split, resulting in an ingrown toenail.

Older people also sometimes get ingrown toenails because with age the nails get thicker. This can make them more difficult to cut and more likely to put pressure on the skin around the nail.

How should I treat my ingrown toenail?

There are number of things you can do yourself to treat mild ingrown toenails and prevent them from getting worse, including:

  • Practise good foot hygiene by taking care of your feet and washing them regularly using soap and water.
  • Trim your toenails straight across to help prevent them from continuing to dig into the surrounding skin
  • Gently push the skin away from the nail using a cotton bud (this may be easier after using a small amount of olive oil to soften your skin)
  • Wear comfortable shoes that are not too tight and provide space around your toes.
How can a foot health practitioner help treat my ingrown toenail?

It depends on how serious your ingrown toenail is. For the most basic painful ingrowing toenail, I remove the offending spike of nail and cover it with an aseptic dressing.

However if your condition is long standing, or the nail shape is too contorted, the best course of treatment may be to remove part or all of your nail. If this were the case I would advise you to visit a local podiatrist who will discuss this with you and then inject your toe with a local anaesthetic, before removing the offending portion or whole nail.

If your ingrown toenail becomes infected you’ll need to treat it immediately with an antiseptic cream and soak your foot in salt water baths. Antibiotics may be required so it’s important to seek professional advice.


Call or email me to discuss your foot health concerns or to make an appointment.

Tel. 01253 891326 or 07939151744


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