An ingrown toenail occurs when the toenail grows into or pierces the skin beside the nail. It is a common occurrence, causing pain and can initiate an infection to the surrounding skin and tissue. Left untreated, an ingrown toenail can make putting a shoe on or participating in activity quite hard and painful.
An ingrown toenail can be caused by many things:
- Nail shape – if you have a fan shape or curved nail, this increases the risk of the nail growing into the skin and becoming ingrown.
- Cutting technique – incorrect trimming of toenails can cause an ingrown toenail. The nail should be trimmed straight across the top and not curved down the side as this can cause the nail to grow outwards into the skin. There is a higher chance of leaving a nail spike when trimming down the sides of the nail.
- Trauma – stubbing your toe or dropping a heavy object on your toes.
- Ill-fitting footwear – tighter fitting footwear can cause the skin to become too close to the nail, causing a puncture to the skin.
- Sport – usually sport with repetitive kicking or tighter boots can increase the likelihood of an ingrown toenail.
Conservative treatment will be used first of all, this will involve correct trimming or removal of any shape edges that may be piercing the skin. Antibacterial ointment and correct dressings will be applied to prevent any further infection whilst the skin is healing. Education on the correct trimming technique can prevent another occurrence of an ingrown toenail.
If left untreated for a longer period of time, toenail surgery may be the only way to remove part of the nail that has penetrated the skin. This minor surgery involves a partial nail removal (small slither of the nail is removed from the affected side) after the toe has been numbed by the anaesthetic. To prevent another ingrown toenail, a chemical can be used to stop this area of the nail from growing back.
We’re here to help!
We invite you to call us at Hampton Podiatry Foot Clinic on (03) 9521 0366 and one of our friendly team will gladly arrange an appointment.
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