Ingrowing toenail

An ingrowing toenail is a relatively common condition where the toenail grows into its surrounding skin tissue.

Ingrowing toenails can be painful and may become infected if not treated appropriately. Usually, self-help measures can help prevent infection but sometimes surgery will be recommended.

Many factors can cause an ingrowing toenail. These include:

  • cutting toenails too short, or cutting at the edges. This allows skin to fold over your nail and encourages the nail to grow into the skin tissue.
  • tight or poor fitting shoes, socks or tights. These put pressure on the skin around your toenail, potentially allowing the nail to pierce the skin.
  • sweaty feet. Having sweaty feet softens the skin, making it easier for the nail to pierce it.
  • injury. Stubbing or bruising your toe can cause an ingrowing toenail to develop.
  • unusually shaped nails. If you have fan-shaped toenails, for example, they are more likely to develop ingrowing nails.

Symptoms of an ingrowing toenail may include redness around the end of the toe, swelling of the toe and pain (especially when pressure is applied).

Your doctor will usually be able to diagnose ingrowing toenails after a quick examination, and recommend any further treatment if required.

Ingrowing toenail removal

If it’s not treated, an ingrowing toenail may become infected. To prevent this you should; wash your feet regularly to keep the area clean, change socks frequently, wear properly fitting shoes, and cut your nails correctly.

If your ingrowing toenail doesn't improve over time, then surgery may be required to treat it.

What next?

If you are suffering with a suspected condition, you should seek the advice of your doctor who will be able to refer you to Benenden Hospital for diagnosis and treatment.

There are four ways to access treatment at Benenden Hospital which include self-funding, using private medical insurance or your Benenden membership, or through the NHS e-Referral scheme.