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Ingrown toenails

Published: October 21, 2021

Ingrown toenails

An ingrown toenail can be frustrating to deal with and when acute can make each step agonising.

Ingrown toenails occur when a nail's edge pierces the adjacent skin. Any toenail can become ingrown, but it usually occurs at the big toes. When the skin becomes pierced, this can enable bacteria to enter resulting in an infection. Serious infections can arise if poorly managed or left untreated. Signs of an ingrown toenail may include pain, redness, swelling and fluid such as blood or pus.


Causes / Risk factors

The most common causes of ingrown toenails include:

  • Inheriting an involuted (curved) nail shape
  • Tearing or picking at nails
  • Incorrect nail cutting technique
  • Narrow or tight fitting footwear
  • Trauma to the toenail
  • Onychomycosis (fungal nail)


If you recognise the beginnings of an ingrown toenail, you can attempt a few home treatments which are listed below.

  • Make sure your footwear is appropriate and not placing pressure on the painful toenail, you may consider footwear with mesh uppers or open toe shoes when possible.
  • Using a clean container with warm water, dissolve a couple of tablespoons of regular salt or Epsom salts. Submerge the foot with the affected toe for about 10 minutes per day.
  • Apply an antiseptic cream and dressing to the sore edge.

If symptoms worsen or there is no improvement after a few days, you should contact the clinic to have your toe treated by a Podiatrist. Most ingrown toenails can be treated quickly in the clinic with many people having instant relief after having the offending nail correctly removed.

However, If you are experiencing significant pain, swelling or pus you may need oral antibiotics and a visit to your GP is recommended for this.


Surgical Treatment

Nail surgery is a minor surgical procedure reserved for those who are experiencing chronic or severe ingrown toenails. It is performed by the podiatrist at the clinic using a local anesthetic so that no pain can be felt in the specific toe.

Toenail surgery can include a Partial Nail Avulsion (PNA) or a Total Nail Avulsion (TNA). PNAs are more commonly performed and involve the problem side of the nail being removed, with the result being a narrower nail. A TNA is the removal of the whole toenail. Both surgeries can be made permanent with the application of a solution to the base of the nail to prevent re-growth. Personal preferences usually dictate what surgery is performed and no stitches are required for either.

Healing usually occurs over a period of 6-8 weeks, with sports/vigorous activity not being advised for the first 2 weeks after surgery.

For people who suffer ongoing infections or pain from ingrown toenails, having a long-term treatment option can be a big relief.


If you think you may require a nail surgery please call the Back In Motion Rowville clinic on 9755 5910 or click here for online bookings, to book a Free Initial Assessment and appointment to discuss what treatment options will be best for you. 


Kate Bentley


BHlthSc., MPodPrac.

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