An ingrowing toenail is where a piece of nail pierces the flesh of the toe. It can feel as if you have a splinter, and be extremely painful and inflamed or infected. In more severe cases, it can cause pus and bleeding. Ingrowing toenails most commonly affect the big toenail, but can affect the other toes too.
There are many factors that can make you prone to ingrowing toenails, including your posture (the way you stand), your gait (the way you walk) and any foot deformity such as a bunion, hammer toes or excessive pronation of the feet (when your foot rolls inward excessively). Your nails may also have a natural tendency to splay or curl out instead of growing straight, encouraging your nail to grow outwards or inwards into the flesh.
One of the most common causes is not cutting your toenails properly, such as cutting nails too low.
Tight footwear, hosiery and socks can also push your toe flesh onto the nail so that it pierces the skin. If you sweat excessively or if wear the same shoes all the time, the skin becomes moist and weak and is easily penetrated by the nail. If you have brittle nails with sharp edges or are in the habit of breaking off bits of nail that are sticking out, you are also more likely to get an ingrowing toenail.
Active, sporty people are particularly prone because they sweat more. Younger people are more likely to get it (as they pick their nails more, compared to older people who may not be able to reach their toes!).
Before you are seen by a podiatrist, you can relieve the discomfort by bathing your foot in a salty footbath which helps to prevent infection and reduces inflammation. Then apply a clean sterile dressing.
Following a consultation and assessment of your feet, we will recommend a course of treatment for you.
The Chiropody Clinic,
4 Tramway Terrace