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If you have ever had an ingrown toe nail you will understand how extremely painful the condition is. The big toe is the most likely toe to get an ingrown nail on. In grown toenails occur when the edges of your nail grow into the skin, next to the nail, rather than across the toe.

What can cause an ingrown toe nail?

  • Cutting the toe nails incorrectly
  • Irregular or curved toe nails
  • Foot wear that places pressure on the big toes
  • Toenail injuries
  • Poor posture
  • Improper foot hygiene
  • Intensive athletic activity

Signs & Symptoms of an ingrown toe nail:

  • Pain when pressure is placed n the toe
  • Fluid buildup around the toe
  • Skin next to the nail becoming tender & swollen
  • Red tight skin on the tip of the toe
  • Oozing pus
  • Overgrowth of the skin around the nail

What happens if I just leave it alone?

If left untreated an ingrown toenail can cause an infection which can easily spread to the bone of toe. This infection is even more serious if you have diabetes.

What is the treatment?

The first line of treatment is to soak your foot in warm, salty water for about 15-20 minutes up to 3 or 4 times a day. It is safe to use a simple pain relief medication such as paracetamol. If the nail does not respond to the above treatment or an infection occurs you may need minor nail surgery.
Partially removing the toe nail involves removing the piece of nail that is digging into your skin. The doctor will numb your toe using a local anaesthetic before cutting the nail out. A nurse will then place a clean dressing on your toe which is to remain on for 3 days. At home, you can then remove the dressing and continue to wash it in warm, salty water (as mentioned above) until it has healed.  

This simple procedure can be completed at the Oakden Medical Centre & will incur a minimum $40.00 gap.

How can I prevent ingrown toenails?

Avoid cutting your toenails too short

  • Trim your nails straight across rather than round
  • Wear proper fitting shoes & socks
  • Remember to clean your feet & between your toes in the shower (the running water & left over soap isn’t quite adequate!)

Dr Pulak Sarker is a GP and Practice Principal at Windsor Village & Oakden Medical Centres

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