What is ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail develops when the sides of the toenail grow into the surrounding skin.
The nail curls and pierces the skin, which becomes red, swollen and tender. The toe can also feel painful when pressure is placed on it.
The big toe is most likely to be affected, either on one or on both sides.
The medical name for an ingrown toenail is onychocryptosis.
What causes ingrown toenails?
There are several possible causes of an ingrown toenail, including:
- incorrectly cut toenails
- tight-fitting shoes, socks or tights
- excessive sweating or poor foot hygiene
- nail infections
- natural shape of the toenail
Treating ingrown toenails
There are several things to treat ingrown toenails:
- Trim the nail straight across to help prevent it continuing to dig into the surrounding skin
- Surgery may be recommended in cases where an ingrown toenail is more severe. This may involve either removing a section of the affected toenail.
Left untreated, an ingrown toenail can cause the toe to become infected.
When to visit a doctor
If you still have an ingrown toenail after you’ve tried self-care treatments, see a doctor for advice. Our doctors are healthcare professionals who specialise in diagnosing and treating foot conditions.
Depending on how severe your ingrown toenail is, surgery might be recommended.
It is very important you visit a doctor if you have diabetes and an ingrown toenail. Having diabetes could affect the healing of your toenail, particularly if your diabetes is poorly controlled.
Preventing ingrown toenails
There are several measures you can take to keep your feet healthy and prevent problems developing.
For example, cut your toenails straight across, not at an angle or down the edges. Always maintain good standards of foot hygiene, including washing your feet regularly and drying them thoroughly. It is also important that your footwear fits properly and is comfortable.