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When the side of your toenail curls and pierces your skin this is called an ingrown toenail.

Symptoms may include redness and swelling and pain when pressure is applied to your toe.

What causes ingrown toenails?

Ingrown nails can be caused by:

  • Injury to the nail
  • An infection under the nail
  • Excessive sweating
  • Poor hygiene
  • Incorrectly cut toenails
  • Tight shoes or socks

Treatment for ingrowing toenails

If your ingrowing toenail symptoms are minor you may be able to treat yourself:

  • Keep the area clean.
  • Always trim your toenails straight across so the edges of your nail cannot dig into the surrounding skin.
  • Wear shoes and socks that are comfortable and allow your toes to move.
  • Ease the skin away from the nail using a cotton bud. Softening the skin with a bit of olive oil may make this easier.
  • Take over the counter pain relief such as Paracetamol if needed.

If conservative treatment is not successful your GP or consultant may recommend partial or total nail removal.

What happens during ingrown toenail surgery?

Surgery for ingrown toenails is usually performed under local anaesthetic. The edge of your toenail will be cut away making it narrower and giving it a straight edge. An antibiotic solution may be painted on your nail to control infection. If your nail is infected you may need to take a course of antibiotics.

In some cases they may need to remove your entire toenail. You will have an indented space on your toe where the nail once grew.

After your nail removal they will wrap your toe in a large dressing to control any bleeding and prevent infection. Rest and keep your foot elevated for the first few days after your surgery.

Take over the counter pain relief such as Paracetamol to control any pain. Wear sandals or soft shoes to keep the pressure off your toe. You should be able to remove the dressing after 2 days.

Discuss any return to work with your consultant or GP.

Haywards Heath Hospital

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