Ingrown toenails: Causes and symptoms

An ingrown toenail develops when the nail grows into the skin. This problem usually affects the big toe. This is often the result of badly cutCutting your toenails too short or rounding them. toenails. Other contributing factors are sweaty feet, skin maceration and shoes that are too tightIn particular safety footwear..

The ingrowing nail irritates the skin and surrounding tissue which causes pain and inflammation. The toenail can then become infected and discharge pus.

Ingrown toenails should not be confused with retronychia. An ingrown toenail involves one or both sides of the nail while retronychia affects the entire width of the base of the nail.



Treatment for ingrown toenails

Treatments aim to:

  • correct the cut and growth of the nail
  • prevent skin maceration
  • treat infection or at least keep the toe clean

The first point is achieved by attending podiatry appointments. The second point requires you to dry your toes well after washing them and wear socks and shoes that allow your feet to breathe. This means that synthetic fabrics should be avoided. The third point requires you to wash your feet daily and protect the toe from bacteria. In the event of infection, a prescription for antibiotics may be helpful.

These measures are effective in the majority of cases, however, if they fail, surgery may be necessary.


This involves removing the ingrown part of the toenail under general or loco-regionalOnly the foot is numbed.. To decrease recurrence frequency, the corresponding part of the nail root is also removed. All of this is done through a small incision at the base of the nail.


Dressings are to be worn for one to two weeks. Pain medication and instructions on how to ice the wound will be given to ensure that you are comfortable during the first few days after the procedure. Any sports activities must be stopped for one month. A follow-up consultation will take place at the end of this period.




  • What types of imaging tests are required? None. The diagnosis is made by examining the nail.
  • I have a fungal infection in the same nail. What should I do? Surgery should be avoided as there is an increased risk of recurrenceFungal infections weaken the nail, causing it to break easily at an angle.. Instead, opt for podiatry treatment and consult your GP or a dermatologist in order to treat the fungal infection.
  • Can the ingrown toenail come back after the operation? Yes. Surgery does not prevent recurrence. The best ways to stop the ingrown toenail from coming back are cutting your toenails properly and choosing well-fitting shoes with a wide toe.
  • Is the operation painful? No. After surgery, most patients only report experiencing mild pain for one to three days. In any case, pain medication will be provided.
  • Can both feet be operated on at the same time? Yes. In these cases, general anaesthetic is preferred.
  • Will I be able to walk after the operation? Yes, you will be able to walk the day after the operation. Time spent standing should however be limited for three days.
  • How much time will I need off work? Three to 10 days depending on your job.