What is an ingrowing toenail?

Ingrowing toenail

Unless you have suffered from an ingrowing toenail yourself, it is hard to imagine how painful it really is. It can start to affect all aspects of your life and can be quite unbearable. I’m often asked what causes them, and can they be prevented and in this blog I hope to answer that very question.

An ingrowing toenail occurs when the nail grows into the skin and pierces it. This often leads to the toe becoming red and inflamed and you may notice bleeding or pus coming from the area. It can become extremely painful, and even putting your shoes on may become problematic. It can sometimes just be slightly red and swollen or sometimes just painful!

What causes an ingrowing toenail?

Most people are aware that improper cutting of toenails is a major cause, but there are many other causes too.

  • Poor cutting technique
  • Picking at your toenails
  • Tight footwear
  • Injury
  • Genetics
  • Sweaty feet
  • Bunions

If you think you have an ingrowing toenail what can you do?

It is advisable to seek professional help from a podiatrist who will assess your toe and discuss with you the best options for treatment depending on the cause and severity of the problem. This is particularly important if you are diabetic.

We may be able to clip away the spike of nail that has been ingrowing and file the edge of the nail smooth. If your toe is infected you may need antibiotics. If your toenail does not improve then a simple surgical procedure may be recommended, but this is not as scary as it sounds. check back on this site in a fortnight for my next blog dispelling myths around nail surgery!

I haven’t got an ingrowing toenail but I want to prevent getting one – what can I do?

  • As with many things in life, prevention is best. But if you do develop an ingrown toenail book an appointment to come and see us. Remember – you don’t have to suffer in silence!
  • Nail cutting – be sure to cut your nails straight across and file down any sharp corners. Don’t cut them too short and avoid following the natural shape of your toe. If you would like help with nail cutting podiatrists can assist you with this.
  • Avoid picking your toenails – this can result in your nails becoming uneven and jagged and may cause the surrounding skin to become inflamed.
  • Make sure your toes are not too tightly packed in your shoes. Also make sure your tights or socks are not squashing your toes or the seam is rubbing. Try not to forget to check your slippers too!
  • If you injure your toe, may special attention to ensure the nail doesn’t break off or split down the side – if it does seek help from a Podiatrist.
  • If you suffer from sweaty feet be sure to wash and dry your feet thoroughly and regularly. Wearing cotton socks helps your feet breathe too so avoid nylon or non cotton socks and try not to wear shoes apart from sandals or flip flops without any sock or tights! I really love bamboo socks! They keep your feet warm in the winter but also allow your feet to breath better when they are warm!
  • If you have bunions speak to a podiatrist about making something to stop the big toe pressing on the next toe.

If in doubt – speak with us as these problems are usually best sorted when they first appear!

Don’t forget to check in again in a fortnight when I will be dispelling the myths around nail surgery! A common treatment for ingrowing toenails!

Louise Signature