A toenail can be described as 'ingrowing' when the side of the nail cuts into its neighbouring toe, causing pain and bleeding, possibly leading to infection and inflammation. The big toe is commonly affected, as a result of trauma to the nail, improper toenail cutting, tight shoes or hosiery, or an abnormally thick or shaped nail plate.
If caught early, regular soaking and softening of the skin around the affected nail for a few weeks, combined with gently guiding the growing nail over rather than into the skin, can limit or cure the problem. If the nailfold becomes infected, antibiotics may be prescribed. For persistent ingrown toenails, part of the nail may need to be removed under local anaesthetic, with re-growth of the problem nail edge prevented by application of a small amount of acid to the nail bed.
© St. Joseph's Hospital 2019