In-grown toe nails

By far the most common site to suffer from an ingrown nail is the great toe, but they can occur on any toe or finger.

Factors that contribute to the formation include:

  • flat feet, which places increased forces on the great toe.
  • tight, ill fitting footwear
  • trauma to the area, particular with nail bed damage
  • poor nail cutting technique

An ingrown nail is exquisitely tender, and wearing footwear with one can be all but impossible. They frequently become swollen and red, and can require antibiotics for secondary infection.

Early treatment involves regular soaking in salty water, allowing the area to remain clean and the surrounding skin to soften. Gentle manipulation of the remaining nail can be performed to guide growth of the nail over the skin, and not into. Specialised wedges are available from the chemist to hold the nail up over the skin.

When these measures fail, surgical removal of the ingrown component of the nail may be required. This can be performed under local or general anaesthetic as a day procedure. The offending ‘wedge’ of nail is removed, and the area where the nail grows from can be treated to prevent recurrence. This results in a permanently narrow nail plate. In some, particularly those cases that are recurrent, the entire nail can be removed and ablated.

Dr Host can assess you and advise the appropriate treatment options for your specific circumstances.