Ingrown Toenails

What is it?

An ‘ingrown toenail’ occurs when the edge of the nail plate penetrates the soft tissue of the nail fold.  This can lead to inflammation, swelling of the soft tissue and infection.

What causes it?

Improper nail trimming, tight shoes and fungal infections can all cause an ingrown toenail.  The nail should be trimmed straight across its distal margin. You should avoid cutting curved edges on the nail.

How is it treated?

Antibiotics, improved nail care and avoiding tight shoes will help to settle things down.  On going care of the nail is required to avoid a recurrence.  A chronic ingrown toenail may require surgery.

How does the operation work?

Surgery can be performed under local or general anaesthetic.  The aim is to narrow the nail by removing the lateral edge of the nail and also the tissue from which the nail grows.  This will lead to a permanent narrowing of the nail but gives the best chance of a permanent solution to the problem.

After surgery you will have a bulky bandage on the toe. You should keep your foot elevated as much as possible to relieve the swelling. The dressing will be changed at 7-10 days. There will usually be one suture to remove at that time.

The main complication that you should be aware of is recurrence.