Diagnosis and Treatment via Broadgate Clinic London Wall

An in-growing toenail is a toenail that’s sides grow such that it cuts into the skin next to the nail. It is a very common condition, one which can cause discomfort and pain and that can easily become infected.

If you develop an in-growing toenail you should go and see your GP, a chiropodist/podiatrist, or, if you live and/or work in London, you can make use of the private, walk-in GP clinical services that we offer here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall. For the convenience of the busy, you can simply walk-in without having to make a prior appointment.

The symptoms of an in-growing toenail

When you develop an in-growing toenail the symptoms include:

  • Inflammation and tenderness in the formative stages
  • It is likely to be painful, especially when you put pressure on it.
  • The skin next to the nail will become inflamed, swollen and sometimes may get infected.

Infection occurs when the germs that are normally present on your foot, and which are ordinarily benign, are able to penetrate your skin through the incision caused by the in-growing nail. If the toe does become infected, a green/yellowish pus may develop and ooze out around the infected area.

Any of your toes can develop an in-growing toenail, but it happens mostly to the big toe. It is particularly important to see a clinician if you suffer from diabetes, have a weak immune system, or if you suffer from any other foot problems.

The causes of in-growing toenails

There are several common causes that can lead to a toenail becoming in-grown. They include:

  • Trimming your toenails incorrectly
  • Wearing tight-fitting socks
  • Wearing poor-fitting shoes
  • Sweating profusely when exercising
  • An injury to the nail
  • Fungal infection
  • Some medications such as Isotretinoin

Sometimes there is no obvious cause.

Self-treatment – if caught early

When caught early it may be possible to prevent the in-growing toenail from worsening by following the procedure outlined below. You may be able to do this yourself, or if not, you can have it carried out by a chiropodist or podiatrist, or at a private GP clinic like ours here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall.

  • First soak the affected toe in warm water for 10 minutes in order to soft the folds of skin surrounding the affected nail.
  • Take a small cotton wool bud and push the skin over the in-growing area down and away from the nail. Start at the bottom of the nail and work your way upwards.
  • Repeat every day for a number of weeks, allowing the nail to grow naturally.
  • As edge of the in-growing nail grows forward, insert a piece of cotton wool or dental floss beneath thereby encouraging the nail to grow over the skin and not into. You should change the cotton wool/dental floss every time you soak the toe.
  • Refrain from cutting the nail, allowing it to grow forward until it reaches past the end of the toe. When it does so, cut the nail straight across and do not round it off.

This cutting procedure should be adopted as a matter of course. In-growing toenails are often caused as mentioned above through incorrect trimming; by cutting the nails too short and rounding them of – so don’t cut them too short and when you do cut them, cut them straight across without any rounding-off.

If the toe becomes infected, symptomized by increased, throbbing pain, inflammation and swelling, and there is evidence of pus in the area, you may need to take a course of antibiotics.

If you have a persistently in-growing toenail

If you have a persistently in-growing toenail it may be necessary to have a part of the nail removed. This will need to be done either by your GP, a chiropodist/podiatrist, or a private clinic such as Broadgate Clinic London Wall. Typically, this procedure involves:

  • Having a local anaesthetic administered into the base of the affected toe to numb the feeling
  • The nail is then cut with surgical scissors lengthways, close to the affected edge of the toe
  • The cut will be made to the base of the toe to facilitate the damaging edge being removed
  • A small drop of phenol acid (or a similar solution) will then be applied to the exposed edge of the nail bed. This is to prevent the edge of the nail re-growing and creating another ingrown nail
  • A dressing is then applied to the toe

As the local anaesthetic wears off you may feel some localised pain for a day or two which you can treat with a mild painkiller such as paracetamol. The dressing will need to be kept on for approximately 2 weeks, and for the duration you should avoid getting the toe wet. You should also avoid jogging or running during this time. As the nail re-grows it will be slightly narrower than it was before.

Using the walk-in (no appointment necessary) services of Broadgate Clinic London Wall

If you do have an in-growing toenail and you live and/or work in London, we here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall operate a private walk-in GP clinic you can use to have the condition diagnosed and treated. You can time your diagnosis/treatment to best suit your busy work schedule as no prior appointment is required. Our opening hours are 08:00 – 18:30 Mondays to Thursdays, and 08:00 – 17:30 on Fridays