INGROWN TOENAILS are potentially one of the most painful foot conditions that many of us may at some time experience and in severe cases will require surgery to correct, this can be done by your Podiatrist under local anaesthetic but here at INSTEP we only advise it as a last resort if it is apparent that no other treatment will solve the problem. During this procedure we take a strip of nail from the offending side so that aesthetically the best result possible is achieved for the patient as well as relieving the pain !

However, as with anything, prevention is better than cure so here are some guidelines to avoiding ingrown toenails:

1: Don’t cut nails too short, cutting back behind the front edge of the sulcus (trough at the side of the nail) can allow the front edge of the nail to grow below the skin line and thus press in at the front corner. Some nails have a natural inclination to curve in (involuted nail) so removing this front corner in cutting is necessary to stop pressure and in such cases you should only just nip the front corner off then file round so no sharp edge is left.

2: Don’t poke or cut a long way back down the sides, this is how small spikes get left that grow forward into the flesh.

3: Don’t pick, bite or tear nails, these all leave potential jagged nails that can grow in.

4: Some nails have a natural right to left/left to right curve across the front edge (if you look from above) so cut following this i.e. Follow the nail shape when cutting without going back down the sides then file the corners, this is basically “cutting straight across” as we have all heard, straight across the natural line.

5: Make sure your foot-wear doesn’t squeeze your toes.

6: Toe-protector foot- wear often damages nails, make sure the toe-box is deep enough so as not to exert pressure on the nails.

7: If for any reason a toe-nail starts to hurt, get it looked at sooner rather than later as it will be quicker and less painful for your Podiatrist to deal with if caught early.

Unfortunately some people will be genetically predisposed to “curvy” or “involuted” (potentially in growing) toe-nails and it might be advisable for them to have their nails cut professionally so as to avoid problems going forwards.