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Understanding the Three Grades of Ingrown Toenails and Treatment Options

Dealing with ingrown toenails can range from a minor annoyance to a painful and debilitating condition. Recognising the severity of an ingrown toenail is crucial for determining the best treatment approach. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the three grades of ingrown toenails and explore the corresponding treatment options available at Foot Foundation.

Grade 1: Mild Ingrown Toenail

Grade 1 ingrown toenails typically manifest as slight discomfort and redness along the nail's edge. At this early stage, the nail has just begun to grow into the surrounding skin, often with minimal inflammation. Treatment options for Grade 1 ingrown toenails include:

  • General nail care: Emphasising proper nail trimming techniques and soaking the foot in warm water can help alleviate symptoms and prevent further aggravation.

  • Topical treatments: Utilising over-the-counter antiseptic creams or antibiotic ointments may aid in reducing inflammation and preventing infection.

Grade 2: Moderate Ingrown Toenail

Grade 2 ingrown toenails are characterised by increased discomfort, inflammation, and deeper nail penetration into the surrounding skin. Patients may experience pain, swelling, and occasionally pus drainage. Treatment options for Grade 2 ingrown toenails include:

  • Partial nail avulsion: Surgical removal of the ingrown portion of the nail offers immediate relief and helps deter recurrence. This procedure is typically conducted in-office under local anaesthesia.

  • Nail bracing: Applying specialised braces to the affected nail can gently lift its edges, promoting natural growth and relieving pressure on the surrounding skin.

Grade 3: Severe Ingrown Toenail

Grade 3 ingrown toenails represent the most severe cases, marked by intense pain, significant swelling, and potential infection. The nail may be deeply embedded in the surrounding tissue, causing considerable discomfort and hindering mobility. Treatment options for Grade 3 ingrown toenails include:

  • Complete nail avulsion: Surgical removal of the entire toenail may be necessary for severe cases, providing long-term relief from discomfort and preventing recurrence. This procedure is performed under local anaesthesia.

  • Oral antibiotics: When infection is present, oral antibiotics may be prescribed to combat the infection and alleviate inflammation.


Ingrown toenails can vary in severity, from mild discomfort to severe pain and infection. By understanding the three grades of ingrown toenails and the corresponding treatment options, patients can take proactive steps to address their condition and prevent complications. If you're experiencing symptoms of an ingrown toenail, don't hesitate to schedule a consultation with the experienced podiatrists at Foot Foundation. We're committed to providing personalised treatment plans tailored to your needs, restoring comfort and functionality to your feet.