What can I do if I get have an ingrown toenail?

If you develop ingrown toenails, it is important that you don’t cut into the nail to try and treat the problem yourself. In our experience this type of ‘bathroom surgery’ makes matters worse, and usually contributes to more risk of infection due to the use of unsterile equipment and sharp edges and spicules of nail left behind.

Try soaking the toe in warm salty water for a few minutes each day, and apply liquid iodine antiseptic (eg Betadine) on the toe to keep it clean. Try and avoid tight fitting footwear.

If the toe is becoming red and developing an odour, you may have an infection which requires antibiotics. Antibiotics alone, however, will rarely fix the problem.

Try and make an appointment with a podiatrist as soon as possible so that the problem can be brought under control. This may include a temporary procedure to remove a small section of nail, and encourage the toe to drain and any infection to resolve.

Your podiatrist can then advise you as to any further care that will be required.

If it is the first time you have had ingrown toenails, you will typically be offered some simple conservative measures to try. However, if there has been a history of repeated problems, your podiatrist will probably recommend a permanent surgical solution.

Cutting a ‘V’ in the nail?

A common ‘old wives tale’ is that if you cut a ‘V’ in the end of the nail, somehow this will bring out the ‘edges’ of ingrown toenails. Unfortunately, this is just a myth. Anatomically, all nail growth occurs in the root (or matrix) which is located under the skin at the base of the nail. So, whatever is done at the end of nail will not change the way the nail grows out.