The Ultimate Guide to Ingrown Toenails: Understanding, Prevention, and Treatment

Posted 7 May

The Ultimate Guide to Ingrown Toenails: Understanding, Prevention, and Treatment

Ingrown toenails are a common yet often painful foot condition that can disrupt daily life and cause discomfort. Whether you're experiencing the occasional twinge or battling chronic ingrown nails, understanding their causes, prevention strategies, and treatment options is essential for maintaining healthy and pain-free feet.

Understanding Ingrown Toenails:

Ingrown toenails occur when the edge of a toenail grows into the surrounding skin, leading to irritation, inflammation, and potential infection. While ingrown nails can affect anyone, certain factors may increase the risk of developing this condition:

  1. Improper Nail Trimming: Cutting nails too short or rounding the edges can encourage ingrown toenails by allowing the nail to penetrate the skin as it grows.
  2. Ill-Fitting Footwear: Tight shoes or socks can exert pressure on the toes, pushing the skin into the nail and promoting ingrowth.
  3. Trauma or Injury: Stubbing your toe or sustaining repetitive trauma can cause the nail to grow irregularly, increasing the likelihood of ingrown toenails.
  4. Genetics: Some individuals may inherit traits such as curved nails or excessive nail thickness, predisposing them to ingrown toenails.

Read more on this blog. 

Treatment Options:

When conservative measures fail to alleviate ingrown toenail symptoms, various treatment options are available to provide relief and prevent recurrence:

  1. Conservative Treatments: Soaking the foot in warm water, applying antibiotic ointment, and gently lifting the nail edge may relieve mild ingrown toenail discomfort.
  2. Ingrown Toenail Surgery: For persistent or severe cases, ingrown toenail surgery may be necessary to remove the offending portion of the nail and prevent future ingrowth. This outpatient procedure can often be performed under local anesthesia and offers a permanent solution to recurrent ingrown toenails.
  3. Partial Nail Avulsion: In cases where ingrown toenails are chronic or recurrent, partial nail avulsion involves removing a portion of the nail or the nail bed to prevent further ingrowth.
  4. Nail Bracing: Nail bracing techniques may be used to realign the nail and promote proper growth, particularly in patients with structural abnormalities or recurring ingrown nails.

At Flawless Feet we carry out a minor procedure known as nail surgery to remove ingrown toenails. If the word ‘surgery’ gives you the creeps, rest assure this is not a theatre operation. The procedure is carried out at our clinic by one of our podiatrists, who will explain every step in detail and make sure you feel comfortable and at ease.

Step by step

  • We anaesthetise your toe; it’s just a quick injection which means you won’t be able to feel anything during the procedure.
  • We remove the outside edge of your nail- the bit that causes the pain.
  • We use a chemical to kill a small section of the cells that grow nails, stopping that section of nail from ever re-growing.
  • We dress your toe to keep it clean, ready for you to go home.
  • Generally the treatment for two toes takes about an hour.


Benefits of Surgery for Ingrown Toenails:

Permanent Solution: While conservative treatments like soaking the foot in warm water or using antibiotics may provide temporary relief, surgery offers a permanent solution to recurring ingrown toenails. By removing a portion of the nail or the nail bed, surgery prevents the nail from growing into the skin again. The success rate of nail surgery is 95% but there is a 5% chance of regrowth. This will, in all likelihood, require a further procedure to deal with the problem.

Relief from Pain and Discomfort: Ingrown toenails can cause significant pain, especially when walking or wearing shoes. Surgery alleviates this discomfort by eliminating the source of irritation and allowing the toe to heal properly.

Prevention of Infection: Untreated ingrown toenails can become infected, leading to more severe complications such as abscesses or cellulitis. Surgery not only removes the ingrown portion of the nail but also reduces the risk of infection, promoting faster healing.

Improved Nail Appearance: In addition to relieving pain, ingrown toenail surgery can improve the appearance of the affected nail. By reshaping the nail or removing the ingrown portion, surgery restores the nail to its natural contour, enhancing its aesthetic appeal.

Minimal Downtime: Many patients are hesitant to undergo surgery due to concerns about recovery time. However, ingrown toenail surgery typically involves minimal downtime, allowing patients to resume their daily activities shortly after the procedure.

Customised Treatment: As a podiatrist, I understand that each patient is unique, and their treatment should be tailored to their specific needs. Ingrown toenail surgery allows for a customised approach, ensuring optimal results based on the individual's condition and preferences.

Prevention Strategies:

Preventing ingrown toenails involves adopting proactive measures to maintain proper foot care and reduce risk factors. Consider implementing the following prevention strategies:

  1. Trim Nails Correctly: Cut nails straight across and avoid rounding the edges to prevent ingrowth.
  2. Wear Proper Footwear: Choose shoes with adequate toe room and avoid tight or narrow footwear that can compress the toes.
  3. Protect Your Feet: Wear protective footwear in environments where your feet are at risk of injury, such as construction sites or athletic activities.
  4. Maintain Good Hygiene: Keep your feet clean and dry to reduce the risk of infection, which can exacerbate ingrown toenails.
  5. Regular Foot Checks: Monitor your feet for signs of ingrown toenails, such as redness, swelling, or tenderness, and seek prompt treatment if necessary.


Ingrown toenails can be a source of discomfort and frustration, but with the right knowledge and proactive steps, you can effectively manage this common foot condition. By understanding the causes, implementing preventive measures, and exploring treatment options, you can take control of your foot health and enjoy a life free from ingrown toenail woes. Remember, consulting with a qualified podiatrist is key to receiving personalised care and achieving optimal outcomes for your feet.

Don't let ingrown toenails hold you back – take the first step towards healthier, happier feet today!


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