An ingrown toenail is also known as onychocryptosis. It is a common condition that occurs when part of the nail pierces the skin on the toe, which can often cause pain and sometimes an infection. The ingrown toenail can also cause discomfort without piercing through the skin because it can lead to increased pressure at the side of the toe/nail fold from the nail pinching on the toe. In addition to pain, there may be swelling, redness and discharge of clear or yellow fluid from the side of the toe.
Ingrown toenails can occur from several factors. The most common cause is incorrect nail trimming technique. Other common causes of ingrown toenail include:
- Congenital toenail/toe shape. ie. An involuted nail that is more curved from side to side
- Pressure from poor fitting shoes, neighbouring toes or tight socks/hosiery
- Poor foot hygiene
- Fungal nail infection
- Pregnancy or obesity which affects the size of the toe
A skilled Podiatrist can remove the corner of nail that has pierced the skin, often with little discomfort. However, if the toe is very sore, local anaesthetic may be used to ease the discomfort. It is important to remove the protruding piece of nail as infection is likely to persist and may worsen if it is not removed. Your podiatrist will also talk to you about the steps you should follow to promote healing of the toe.
If the toenail recurs a number of times, your Podiatrist can perform a toenail surgery called a Partial Nail Avulsion. This is done under a local anaesthetic in the Podiatry clinic and involves permanently removing the piece of nail that is ingrown.