They can really hurt… and you might even get little sympathy from those closest to you (or maybe not).
So what is an ingrown toenail? An Ingrown toenail occurs when a portion of a toenail turns downward and grows into the skin around it. Normally, nails are nearly flat in some cases however the border of the nail can turn downwards and it begins to injure the skin, causing pain and sometimes infection.
There are several causes of an ingrowing toenail. Most commonly, not cutting your toenails properly (or picking!) down at an angle instead of straight across, can produce a nail edge that grows in to the skin. Also, wearing narrow, poorly fitted or pointed shoes can apply pressure to a normal nail encouraging abnormal growth. It is often a problem that runs in families, where the nail does not grow straight.
There is a lot of myths and ‘home-remedies’ floating around when it comes to fixing an ingrown nail and I would like to dispell them once and for all for you.
When a toenail is ingrown, the nail curves downward and grows into the skin, often piercing it. Cutting a “V” in the toenail does not affect its growth, the nail will continue to curve in this way unless it is trained to grow. Cutting a “V” may actually cause more problems and is painful in many cases. Furthermore, I’ve seen many an infected ingrown from those attempting to fix it themselves.
Antibiotics will fix an infection around an ingrown nail. But unless the sharp spike that has caused the piercing of the skin on your toe is removed, it risks becoming infected again.
There are some conservative treatment options for less severe cases of ingrown toe nails. These options are dependent on why the ingrowing nail has occurred, how long it has been a problem, its severity and your lifestyle. Conservative treatment includes:
If conservative methods are not successful or indicated in your treatment, a minor surgery is often performed to remove a small portion of the sharp nail, and a chemical used to prevent that area from regrowing. Unlike historic procedures, you can generally go to work the next day and experience little to no post-operative pain.
Claire Westra is our resident podiatrist and ingrown toenail specialist. She has recently moved to the Northern Rivers after gaining valuable experience in a busy private clinic in Brisbane. Claire is available at our Martin St in Ballina clinic for surgeries and is available by appointment at Lismore GPSC in Goonellabah. Ingrown Nail services also available in Grafton with Suri.