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Did you Know?

Did you know... that the human foot has 18 muscles and 52 bones?

When our feet hurt, we hurt all over.
- Socrates
 

What is an ingrowing toenail?

          When the edge of the toenail digs into the skin fold beside the nail, the skin becomes red, hot, tender and swollen. This is an ingrowing toenail. Sometimes bacteria from the skin get into the inflamed skin and an infection begins. This results in much more inflammation which may spread throughout the toe or into the foot. Pus may also discharge from the edge of the nail.

Why does it happen?
         The nail edge may dig in because of its shape, because it becomes ragged and sharp or because of an injury. Often it seems to happen for no particular reason. It has been suggested that people with ingrowing toenails have abnormally shaped nail beds.

Can an ingrowing toenail be prevented?
         If you look after your toenails well and prevent them from getting ragged or developing painfil spikes, you will reduce the chance of getting an ingrowing toenail.

Is there a right way to cut my nails?
         If you cut your nails straight across they will not have spikes on the end and the end will be clear of the edge of the nail fold where it usually digs in. However, even this will not guarantee that you cannot get an ingrowing toenail. It may still happen in well-kept nails, especially if you have had one before or are diabetic.

When should I take professional advice?
         If redness and tenderness are present at the edge, it may be infected and you should see your clinician as soon as possible. If you have an ingrowing toenail that is not getting better with simple treatment and is interfering with your life it is worth contacting your GP or a chiropodist.

What can be done about it?
         First the podiatrist will want to check that you have tried all the simple measures outlined above. If so, and if the nail is not getting better, it is usually best to remove the corner of the nail bed to stop the edge of the nail growing again. This may be done either by burning the nail bed out with a chemical or by cutting it out surgically. This operation is successful in 95% of people. It is usually done under local anaesthetic.