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What is an ingrown toenail?

When the skin around the toe at the edge of the nail becomes painful, it is likely due to an ingrown toenail. Symptoms may include swelling, redness, inflamed tissue, and sometimes infection.

It's important to note that infections do not occur with all ingrown toenails. Many people experience nail and skin pain due to pressure without the nail penetrating the skin.

Common Causes of Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are common! Approximately 2 in 10 people visit their GP for an ingrown toenail. They are most frequent in the big toes but can also affect the lesser toes. While home remedies like saltwater baths may help manage symptoms, they are unlikely to resolve ingrown toenails, especially those present for over two weeks.

Causes include:

  • Genetics: A common reason for developing ingrown toenails.

  • Narrow or short footwear

  • Sports requiring tight-fitting footwear

  • Sweaty feet, especially in teenagers

  • Poor nail cutting or tearing/pulling at the nail

The three stages of ingrown toenails:

Stage 1:

  • Symptoms present for less than two weeks

  • Mild redness and/or swelling

Stage 2:

  • Increased pain

  • Infection may be present, possibly with pus

  • Small increase in tissue growth (granuloma)

Stage 3:

  • Symptoms present for more than two weeks

  • Pus-associated infection

  • Increased tissue surrounding the nail

  • Granulation tissue covering part of the nail plate

Ingrown Toenail Treatment:

Treating ingrown toenails can vary in complexity based on the stage:

Step 1: Non-surgical treatments include general nail care, salt baths, nail taping, or bracing.

Step 2: Conservative options may be attempted, but surgery is indicated if these efforts fail.

Step 3: Surgical approaches are often the most effective for severe cases.

With four state-of-the-art facilities in Auckland City, Hamilton, Tauranga and North Shore, you can be sure you're getting the best treatment for your foot condition, to put the bounce back in your step.