What is an Ingrown Toenail?

How much do you know about ingrown toenails?

An ingrown toenail is when a piece of the nail digs into the skin like a splinter, usually at the front corner of the nail. This can be painful and can cause swelling or even an infection.

If you want to get a clearer understanding of what an Ingrown toenail is, then check out this blog post that explains all.


  1. Not cutting your nails properly

It might sound strange but the way you cut your nails can have an impact on your feet. The most common cause of ingrown toenails is because people, especially teenagers, will pick at the nail.


  1. Your footwear

Let’s say you’re heading out for walk; you’ve cut nails short, and you’ve slipped on your shoes. The issue with cutting your nails too short, is that the shoes will then put pressure on the softy flesh of the toe, the corner or edge of the nail will be pressed into the skin, causing pain and an ingrown toenail.

Choose roomy footwear that won’t squish your toe, if you’re wearing shoes that don’t provide enough space for your toes to wriggle around comfortably, then it might be time to change your footwear!


  1. Cutting your nail too short

When you cut your nails too short, it’s easy to miss the nail splinters in the corner, and just as we explained with the footwear, the splinter will press into the skin. I have created a video to help you on how to cut your nails safely.


  1. Stubbing your toe

Let’s face it! No one purposely goes out of their way to stub their toe, but it happens a lot. This is another common cause of an ingrown toenail as the pressure put on your toe will cause the nail to penetrate the skin.


  1. Nail Shape

That’s right, the shape of your nail can play into this. Some people naturally have wide nails that have a flared shape. This can mean you have a predisposition to getting ingrown toenails, as there isn’t enough space for the nail to grow straight. Nail shapes can be inherited; in fact, I’ve had clients tell me that their Mum or Dad had nails just like theirs.


Now that we’ve explained what can cause them, we want to talk about treatment.

“If I leave it, will it cure itself?”

This all depends on how bad it is and what has caused the ingrown toenail or how you’ve treated it.

For example, if you are an habitual ‘nail picker’, then this can lead to splinters or rough edges. These rough edges need to be smoothed or removed for the toe to settle down.

Sometimes it may need to be surgically removed, but we’ll explain this further down the post.

Will antibiotics help?

The answer you probably don’t want to hear and that’s no, they can’t fix it.

An ingrown toenail is caused by a splinter of nail penetrating the skin, acting as a foreign body. This is what causes the infection, because that entry point into the skin where it has been pierced by the nail is what’s allowing the bacteria in.

That foreign body (the splinter) must be removed for the skin to recover and for the infection to clear up.

Antibiotics only suppress the infection.

If you want more information about antibiotics and your ingrown toenail, I have written a post along with a video explaining why antibiotics won’t work.


That all depends on the severity of the ingrown toenail. Some instances may just involve a trip to the clinic where I can remove the splinter with very fine ingrown toenail clippers. Sometimes it might need surgery.

Partial toe surgery

Sometimes part of the nail may need to be surgically removed for the toe to settle down. That’s something I can do at my clinic using a local anaesthetic to numb the toe first.

Depending on how bad the ingrown toenail is, if it’s embedded close to the cuticle then you are more likely to need surgery to fix it, if it’s the corner at the front of your nail.

This can sometimes be fixed with a general clinic appointment with a fine pair of ingrown toenail clippers.

Full nail surgery

What does full surgery mean? First your toe needs to be numbed, then I inject the two nerves at the base of your to with local anaesthetic. After 5-10 minutes you won’t feel any pain due to the numbing or when the nail is removed.

If you would like to find out how to book an appointment or your first consultation, then please click here.

 Do I need to do anything after having the treatment?

This all depends on the treatment you’ve had. If it’s a mild ingrown toenail that I have been able to remove with the fine ingrown toenail clippers, then your toe should settle down within a day or two. You may need to wear a protective dressing for a while.

If you’ve had surgery, then you will need to regularly change the dressing until it’s healed. Not to worry though, I can supply you with the kit you need to take care of that dressing, along with a follow up with you over the next few weeks to make sure it’s healing as expected.

You can expect it to fully heal from 5-8 weeks following nail surgery.


I would recommend booking an appointment to see me, rather than you poking about at the toe and it getting worse.

It helps that I have a magnifying glass along with super bright LED lights, along with the clinic kit to help fix your toenail.

And unless you’re a gymnast, I can probably get closer to it too!

 Not sure it’s an ingrown toenail?

Send me photos of your toe and let me take a look before you book an appointment. I’m always happy to help, so please get in touch.

If you’re ready to get help with that pesky ingrown toenail, book an appointment with me!

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