Ingrown toe nails

What causes ingrown toe nails?

Nails can in-grow at the sides due to: 
  • Mechanical damage
  • Incorrect footwear
  • Changes to the nail root caused by medication
  • Nail infections
  • Poor foot hygiene
  • Injury 

What treatments are available?

If simple trimming or filing does not work then the ingrown side can be removed under a local anaesthetic and the side of the root causing the problem can in many instances be destroyed with a caustic chemical (phenol). To be absolutely certain of partial root removal a slightly deeper procedure called incisional nail surgery can physically remove the root tissue, this will require a couple of stitches (sutures) to close the incision and leave a small thin scar. 

How safe is ingrown nail treatment?

The anaesthetics used have a good safety record; infections may already be present or develop post-operatively. These can be treated with appropriate antibiotics. Sufficient healing time with reduced foot activity should be allowed for a couple of weeks after the procedure.

How can ingrown nails be prevented?

Not all ingrown nails can be prevented. However, the following actions may reduce your chance of suffering from one:

  • Regularly cutting your nails – Cutting your nails frequently and properly should reduce the likelihood of an ingrown nail
  • Keeping your feet clean – Keeping your feet clean and maintaining good foot hygiene should help prevent many common feet problems – including ingrown nails
  • Wearing shoes and socks that fit properly – Wearing shoes and socks that fit properly should help prevent your toes from becoming overcrowded, which can cause ingrown nails forming.

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