How to fix an ingrown toenail ? Who should you see and what should you do?

I recently was surprised to hear that one of the most common conditions children attend the emergency room at the Royal Children’s hospital is for an ingrown toenail! 

Our Podiatrist, Isabella talks about ingrown toenails, what they are and what we can do to help. You might be surprised to know we can fix these within the clinic, without the need to wait for hours in the emergency room!

What is an ingrown toenail?

An ingrown toenail is a very common nail pathology and is when the nail starts to grow into the skin, causing redness, pain and swelling. An ingrown toenail can occur due to an improper cutting technique, an involuted nail shape (curved nails) which grow into the sides of the nail bed, tight narrow footwear, nail picking or repetitive trauma to the nail bed itself. Ingrown toenails are most commonly present in the big toe but can occur in the smaller toes as well


What can an ingrown toenail look like?

At the sight of the ingrown toenail you can experience the following symptoms

  • Hard and tender feel to the side of the nail
  • Redness, swelling or pain
  • Pus and travelling redness or shiny appearance- signifies infection
  • Overgrowth of tissue 
  • Pain with light pressure such as socks and bed sheet

How can you treat your ingrown toenail?

At-Home tips 

  • Avoid restrictive, tight or narrow footwear to reduce pressure on your ingrown toenail
  • If you notice redness, you can soak your toenail in some warm water and 2 tablespoons of table salt to cleanse the nail and avoid infection
  • Wear open-toed footwear whilst it is flared up if possible
  • Avoid improper cutting techniques- allow the nail to grow out and trim the nail straight across, rather than trying to dig down the sides of your toenail (this can lead to infection)
  • Avoid picking and pulling out ingrown toenails                         
  • Taping the skin away from your nail with sports tape 
  • Dressing with an antiseptic, such as betadine


In clinic options

Regular podiatric visits so we can trim the nail and remove any painful nail spikes using sterile tools. By regular general treatment we can help promote healthy nail growth. This is the best way to ensure proper nail growth and to manage those tricky curved nails successfully. 

Often we can remove the offending nail spike with a small blade. This is usually able to be done with minimal discomfort felt by the patient. For more troublesome nails, we may use some local anaesthetic to numb the area to be able to remove the nail spike entirely. We can also use silver to minimise any excessive pus/hypergranulation tissue around the nail edge. The ingrown nail is often able to be treated entirely within the first visit, follow up visits and generally advised to ensure adequate removal of the nail, ensure there is no underlying infection and to help with long term strategies for optimal nail growth.

Toenail Surgery

If there is inflammation, swelling, pain and or pus or recurrent issues with the affected nail, we will often recommend an ingrown toenail surgery. This procedure is conducted in the clinic where we partially remove the infected toenail. We do this by numbing your toe and then using specialised instruments to cut down the side of the nail and remove it from the base. We then use a chemical  to ensure it does not grow back! 

This often is a quick and effective option for recurrent or really advanced ingrown toenails. By having this procedure done in the clinic, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on hospital admissions or private surgeon fees. Podiatrists are qualified to perform these procedures for a fraction of the cost of a private surgeon!

Onyfix Nail Bracing System

For curved or involuted nails, we sometimes can use a nail brace to try and encourage normal nail growth.

We use the onyfix bracing system at Sole Podiatry. Onyfix is applied to your nail during a consult and helps re-shape the nail and ensure natural growth over a period of 2-3 months.


Come and see us at Sole Podiatry if you notice the following:

  • Painful ingrown toenail upon wearing footwear or socks
  • If you notice redness that is travelling, along with pus swelling or pain
  • Overgrowth of skin surrounding the nail
  • Recurrent ingrown toenail infections 
  • Painful curved nails


With each ingrown toenail case we will provide you with the appropriate treatment option specific to your case! Don’t spend hours waiting in the emergency department at the hospital, give us a call on 9939 1012 or click the Book Now button to make a time to see one of our friendly and experienced Podiatrists Now!



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