What is an ingrowing toenail?

Dec 8, 2022

By Chryso Massoura


Onychocryptosis is the medical term used for an ingrowing toenail. It can affect all people regardless of their activity level or age and occurs when the nail punctures the skin, often leading to infection and pain. You may also notice excess tissue formation at the edge of the nail called hypergranulation tissue. This bleeds very easily and makes the area more swollen.

What Cause Ingrowing Toenails?

There are various factors that can cause your nail to ingrow. It could be due to acute trauma, such as stubbing the toe, or chronic repetitive microtrauma from tight footwear.

It might also develop due to a naturally wide or curved nail plate irritating the skin at the side. This natural shape may be inherited.

Sometimes, cutting the nail in a particular way can encourage the nail to penetrate the skin, particularly if a ‘spike’ of nail remains after cutting.

What Is The Best Treatment For An Ingrowing Toenail?

If you have a mild ingrowing toenail, you may be able to manage this yourself by bathing the area in salty water every day and making sure you have plenty of room in your footwear. The problem section of nail may grow out over time and any soreness should improve. Cut your nail carefully according to the shape of your nail. Try to avoid cutting them too short, peeling the nail or leaving spikes in the corners.

If you have tried managing the problem yourself and things are not improving, or if you suspect that your toe has become infected (red, painful, swollen and warm), you should make an appointment to see your Podiatrist as soon as possible. We can give you antibiotics for the infection as well as talk to you about suitable treatment.

Surgical Treatment

Your Podiatrist may suggest a small operation to remove the ingrowing section of nail and have that part of the nail root destroyed with a chemical. This procedure is carried out by a Podiatrist under a local anaesthetic (numbing injection) and takes less than an hour.

The width of the nail is reduced slightly with this method but it offers a permanent solution so you can say goodbye to your ingrowing toenail forever! Sometimes a different method involving cutting out part of the root and stitching the skin is needed. This tends to be for people who are categorised as high risk, such as those with diabetes.

How Much Does it Cost?

Nail surgery in the UK ranges from £300-£750. We can offer a payment plan over three months to help you spread the cost of the surgery.


How Long Do I Need To Recover?

We advise that you rest for two days following nail surgery and then gradually return to your normal activity levels over the coming days. You may experience some soreness following the operation, but this is usually minimal and can be managed with paracetamol. Your podiatrist will see you until the wounds are healed, but you will also be required to carry out salt-water foot baths and change the dressings on a regular basis. It is often more comfortable if a shoe with a spacious toe-box is worn until healing has taken place.

If you think you might have an ingrowing toenail, get in touch. We are the experts in dealing with this condition safely and sympathetically.

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