Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail is the nail growth into the skin of the toe, typically occurring on the big toe. It pierces the flesh, essentially making you feel like you have a splinter. When infected, however, it can be extremely painful and can cause pus and bleeding in the foot.

Factors that might cause ingrown toenails include:

    • Genetics, foot deformities – such as bunions,
    • Your posture, or continuous and excessive pronation of the foot.
    • It can also be caused by natural growth of the nail, where it curls and splays on its own.
    • Wearing extremely tight footwear can also be a factor, whether they are shoes or socks, they can push the toenails into the flesh, piercing the skin and
      causing severe pain.
    • Excessive sweat can also make the skin wet and moist, making it easier for the nail to penetrate the flesh.
    • Incorrect nail cutting is one of the most common causes for ingrowth, such as cutting them too low or cutting the sites. Infections are less common, though
      their severity is not any less painful. Ingrown toenails can cause infection, which can only exacerbate the situation, so the best course of action would be
      to see a podiatrist right away.
    • Trauma or injury to the toe nail


    • Ingrown toenails can cause infection that can exacerbate the situation so the best course of action would be to see a podiatrist right away.
    • Swelling and redness around the toe area which usually starts on the site where the nail becomes ingrown.
    • Throbbing pain and at times growth of excess skin called hyper granulation that covers part of the nail plate.
    • Recurring infections despite taking more than one course of antibiotics. The antibiotics only clear the infection but do not remove the ingrown toe nail.


    • Depending on the severity, the treatment for ingrown nails involves removing the entire symptomatic nail (total nail avulsion), or a portion of it (partial
      nail avulsion). Nail surgery is carried out under the local anaesthetic hence no pain is experienced during the procedure.
    • If possible the ingrown nail can be treated conservatively by having the spike cut away and the area covered with dressing if required.

Self help

Before seeing a podiatrist, you can try to relieve any discomfort by trying the following:

  • Having a foot bath, with a bit of salt in the water. The salt helps reduce inflammation of the ingrown nail and reduces the risk of infection.
  • Applying a clean dressing especially if the nail protruded through the skin and caused open wound or if the toe feels sore. The dressing to some extend will protect the area and reduce the risk of further deterioration.
  • Wearing accommodative or open toe footwear to reduce pressure to the affected toe nail.
  • Resting and elevating the foot. If the pain is unbearable you may also need to take painkillers to relief the pain.
  • Should your pain persist in your ingrown nail, or if the toe continues to swell and is becoming more red, you should see a podiatrist right away. Diabetic patients should also consider their condition to be exacerbating the symptoms, and visiting a professional podiatrist should be considered absolutely necessary in this case.