At our Baldock clinic, we treat this often painful condition.
What is an ingrowing toenail?
This happens your toenail grows in the wrong direction and cuts into the toe. It’s technically a nail that is curling round and cutting through the skin.
They usually affect the big toe, but they can affect your other toes as well and, whichever toenail is affected, can be extremely painful.
What causes this?
Here are some of the major reasons why you might have an ingrowing toenail:
- Not cutting your toenails properly
- Picking your toenails
- Foot deformities or injuries
- Shoes that don’t fit, tights and socks
- Excessive sweating
To help prevent an ingrowing toenail:
- Trim your toenails in a straight line. Don’t curve down towards the sides. If you can’t easily trim your nails, visit a Podiatrist regularly who can do this for you.
- Don’t cut your nails too short
- Wear shoes that fit well, to leave space around your nails.
- Rotate regularly worn shoes, especially if you tend to sweat a lot or if you use them to play sports in frequently.
- Wear protective footwear if you are at risk of injury e.g. steel toe-capped shoes.
Signs of an ingrowing toenail include:
- Pain in your toe and alongside the nail
You’ll find lots of different websites that tell you that you may feel hot or shivery if you have an infection. Or that there may be pus coming out of the infected area. However, in our opinion, that’s not the whole story.
Redness and swelling are also signs of infection. It can be difficult for you to judge for yourself if you have an infection, as you may come to the wrong conclusion and delay treatment, putting yourself at risk.
Also, feeling hot and shivery can be signs of serious conditions such as sepsis, or the common cold. You can have an infection without fever and shivering. The clinical signs of localised infection are redness, swelling, heat, and pain. And people with nerve damage or who are taking strong pain medication may not feel the pain.
If your toe is red, swollen, hot and you are in pain, please visit a medical professional for further advice and treatment.
Treating at home
You can take steps to treat your toenail at home if it is not already infected, and if you do not have diabetes.
- Soaking your foot in warm salty water can reduce swelling and helps to prevent infection. You can do this for several days, for up to 20 minutes at a time, several times a day
- Keeping your foot dry the rest of the time
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks, or sandals if you are able
- Take over the counter pain medication such as paracetamol or anti-inflamatories
When to seek professional treatment
If your foot is already infected, visit your GP for advice and antibiotics
This is especially important if you have diabetes, poor circulation or a reduced immune system.
If you have treated the toenail at home for three weeks without success.
You can visit your GP for support, and there are NHS podiatrists. However the waiting list can be lengthy so please contact us if you need support more quickly.
Our clinic in Baldock, Hertfordshire regularly treats people with ingrowing toenails. There we have a team of specialists who can see you quickly and offer a range of podiatry treatments.