Treating pesky and painful in-grown toe nails

July 20, 2017

A common condition that people request an appointment at our clinic for is an ingrown toenail. Anybody who has had one of these will tell you that it can be utter agony. Wearing shoes is a nightmare. Walking distances is torture. And if somebody treads on your foot, you should not be held responsible for what follows.

An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the nail grows into the surrounding skin of the toe. Ingrown toenails can cause pain of varying degrees as well as developing accompanying problems of drainage, infection and difficulties with walking and wearing enclosed shoes.

 If you’ve newly developed an ingrown toenail or had it for many years, you may want to think about what may have caused it to begin. Some common causes are:


  • Unusually curved or thickened toenails -This may be hereditary (blame mum or dad) or from repeated trauma.
  • Incorrect cutting – this can leave spicules or splinters of nail which press into the surrounding skin
  • Picking at toenails – this can also leave rough, jagged edges.
  • Age – Adolescent feet sweat excessively and this softens the skin that surrounds the nail
  • Traumatic injury – a blow to the nail can result in it penetrating the surrounding skin.
  • Compression of the nail into the surrounding skin – This can be from wearing shoes that crowd your toenails or from sporting activities

Treatment for ingrown toenails is available, and varies depending on the severity, duration and shape of your nails.

  •  General treatment – The podiatrist can perform routine nail cutting that removes the offending piece of nail and frees up the nail edge.
  • Surgery – after the toe has been anaesthetised by injection the ingrown portion of the nail is removed along with the nail root. A chemical is then applied to inhibit further growth. Only the straight portion of the nail will continue to grow, resulting in a narrower, normal appearing nail with no pain.
  • Nail Brace – The nail brace is a fine-tensioned wire that is applied to the nail plate, similar to dental braces in that it applies a corrective force to the nail plate for approximately 2 months.  This helps to reduce the curvature of the nail as well as gently lifting the nail plate up out of the skin. There is very little discomfort involved with the application or wearing of the brace and does not require local anaesthesia. Replacing packing around the brace is performed as necessary.

Perhaps you’ve just started wearing heeled shoes or playing sport again and you’re finding that the edge of your nail is starting to really hurt. Perhaps you’ve been suffering with ingrown toenails for many years, and have been treating it (painfully – let’s be honest) yourself at home.

Thankfully, the fear of tight footwear and long walks can be a thing of the past. If you’re fed up with your ingrown toenail, come in for an appointment and one of our podiatrists can asses your nail and provide information on the best treatment for you, and if possible start the treatment that day.

Phone (07) 4646 2016 to make a booking or click here to make an online booking.