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What is an ingrown toenail?

When the skin around the toe at the edge of the nail becomes painful, this is likely due to an ingrown toenail. You may experience swelling/redness, inflamed tissue and/or infection.

It is essential to understand that infections do not present with all ingrown toenails. Many people develop nail/skin pain due to pressure without the nail penetrating through the skin.

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are common! It has been suggested that 2 in 10 people present to their GP’s with an ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenails are most common in the big toes but can present in the lesser digits. Home remedies such as saltwater baths may help manage the symptoms but are unlikely to eliminate the problem especially ingrown toenails that have been around for more than two weeks.

Genetics are a common reason why you might develop ingrown toenails. However, other reasons that may predispose you to an ingrown toenail include but are not limited to:

  • Narrow or short footwear

  • Sports that require tight-fitting footwear

  • Sweaty feet – common in teenagers

  • Poor nail cutting or tearing/pulling at the nail

The three stages of ingrown toenails:

Stage 1: Acute symptoms for less than two weeks. Mild redness and/or swelling.

Stage 2: Pain increased. Infection present +/- pus. A small increase in tissue growth (granuloma) may be present

Stage 3: Symptoms presenting for more than two weeks with a pus-associated infection. Increased tissue surrounding the nail and granulation tissue covering a portion of the nail plate.

Ingrown Toenail management:

Treating each stage can be simple, or more complex. There are three management strategies we use to approach an ingrown toenail.

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

Step 2: Conservative options ‘may’ be attempted but surgery is indicated if conservative efforts fail

Step 3: A surgical approach is the best approach

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.