An ingrown toenail is a common condition that can cause pain and discomfort or, in some cases, lead to an infection. Fortunately, it is easily treated with the help of a surgically trained podiatrist, a healthcare professional specialising in disorders of the foot.

Let’s take a closer look at this type of foot condition and find out how you can gain relief with the treatment options available.

What are ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails occur when the corner or edge of your toenail grows into the skin next to it, digging in and causing discomfort. You are at higher risk of an infected ingrown toenail if you live with diabetes or another condition that affects blood circulation.

What causes ingrown toenails?

There are lots of different causes of ingrown toenails. Risk factors for ingrown toenails include:

  • Cutting toenails at an angle, which encourages the nail to grow into the skin
  • Cutting toenails too short
  • Having irregular or curved toenails
  • Shoes or socks that put pressure on your toenails
  • Shoes that are too narrow, tight or flat for your feet
  • A toenail injury, such as stubbing your toe or dropping something heavy on your feet
  • Poor posture
  • Poor foot hygiene, such as not keeping your feet dry or clean
  • Having sweaty feet, which means the nail and skin become soft
  • Having diabetes or another condition, which means you have poor circulation
  • Having thick toenails
  • Practising activities that put pressure on the toenails, such as ballet or football
  • A genetic predisposition to ingrown toenails

Symptoms of an ingrown toenail

In the early stages of an ingrown toenail, you may notice:

  • The skin next to your ingrown toenail becoming swollen, tender or hard
  • Pain when you put pressure on the affected toe
  • Fluid around the toe

If you don’t seek treatment for your ingrown toenail, it may become infected with symptoms such as:

  • Pain around the toe and toenail
  • Swollen, red skin
  • Bleeding
  • Pus
  • Excess skin around the toe

Possible complications of ingrown toenails

If your ingrown toenail isn’t treated, it may become infected. In turn, this can lead to the development of an infection, foot ulcers, sores or impaired blood flow to the area. Ingrown toenails can also become a severe problem if left untreated since the tissue around the ingrown toenail could decay or die.

If you have diabetes, you are more likely to suffer from ingrown toenail-related infections due to the lack of nerve sensitivity and blood flow in your feet. You should always seek professional advice for ingrown toenails if you are diabetic.

Treatments for ingrown toenails

Following a thorough assessment, the podiatrist will present the options for addressing the present pain, pathology and future management. If your ingrown toenail isn’t infected, your podiatrist may advise you to simply treat it at home.

You can do this by:

  • Soaking your feet in warm water for 20 minutes three times a day (but you should take care to keep your feet dry when you are not soaking them)
  • Pushing the skin gently away from your toenail with cotton soaked in olive oil
  • Using over-the-counter medication to treat any pain
  • Using a topical antibiotic or steroid cream to prevent infection

If you have an ingrown toenail that becomes swollen and infected, or if ingrown toenails are a recurring problem for you, the surgically-trained podiatrists at Podiatry First can perform a simple but permanent procedure that removes the offending portion of the nail and prevents it from growing back.

The procedure is carried out in less than 30 minutes and is performed using a local anaesthetic. It does not involve any cutting of skin or stitches, and recovery time is very short. In most cases, normal activity can be resumed the next day.

Providing ingrown toenail treatment Sydney-wide

For ingrown toenail treatment in Sydney, come and see us at Podiatry First. Our strength is focusing on you as a patient and accommodating your unique needs, whether that’s ingrown toenail treatment or any of the other services we offer, including:

  • Laser fungal nail treatment
  • Bunion treatment
  • Biomechanical assessment
  • Shockwave therapy
  • Piriformis syndrome treatment
  • Hip bursitis treatment
  • Osteoarthritis knee treatment

Our goal is to help restore your feet to their full function and health so you can simply get on with your life, free of discomfort and pain.

Put your feet in good hands by coming to see our professional team in a venue that suits you. We offer ingrown toenail treatment Sydney-wide with locations in Sydney CBD, Bondi Junction and Miranda.

This means that wherever you are, you can consider us your local ingrown toenail treatment in Sydney!

Book a consultation today as your first step towards healthy, comfortable feet and a more active life!


  • How do you remove a deep ingrown toenail?

    If you have a deep ingrown toenail or ingrown toenails that keep recurring and troubling you, you may be offered a procedure called a matrixectomy.

    This is when your podiatrist removes the entire nail from your nail bed (the area the nail itself protects) and then covers the tissue beneath your nail (the matrix) with a special chemical that stops it from growing back and bothering you.

  • Is ingrown toenail surgery painful?

    When you go for ingrown toenail surgery, your podiatrist will give you an anaesthetic injection to numb any pain while they carry out their work.

    Obviously, this will wear off once the procedure is done. This means you may feel mild to moderate discomfort or pain for a short period following surgery. You can take over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen to make you more comfortable.

  • What happens if you leave an ingrown toenail too long?

    If you leave an ingrown toenail for too long, you run the risk of developing an infection in the area. This can cause pain, discomfort, swelling, tenderness and bleeding and may lead to serious complications such as infection in the toe bone. That’s why it’s important to seek the advice of a podiatrist if you have an ingrown toenail — you can access the right treatment in a timely way.

  • Should I wrap my ingrown toenail?

    Some people say you should wrap or pack an ingrown toenail with cotton or waxed dental floss under the edge to help it grow correctly, but not all healthcare professionals agree that this is a good idea. It could actually allow bacteria to thrive and cause an infection. It’s always best to consult a trained podiatrist if you have any issues with your feet, like ingrown toenails.

  • What should you not do with an ingrown toenail?

    Ingrown toenails require careful treatment to ensure that they don’t get infected or become even more painful. Here’s what you shouldn’t do if you have an ingrown toenail:

    • Picking or pulling at the nail
    • Attempting to cut your ingrown toenail out yourself
    • Wearing tight shoes or socks
    • Relying on painkillers to deal with the problem
    • Allowing your feet to stay damp

    Any of the above actions can lead to complications and more discomfort for you. Consult your podiatrist so that your ingrown toenail can be treated professionally and to minimise the chance of infection.

  • What can I do to prevent making ingrown toenails worse?

    Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you have an ingrown toenail and want to minimise the pain prior to seeing a professional:

    • It’s important to keep your feet, and particularly the area around your ingrown toenail, clean and dry.
    • If you soak your feet as part of an at-home treatment regime, take care to dry them carefully afterwards.
    • Ensure that your footwear — that includes shoes and socks — isn’t too tight and that your toes have plenty of space to wriggle around.
    • When you cut your toenails, take care of the affected nail. Cut your nails straight across and not too short.
    • If you are living with diabetes, make sure you keep up with your foot care regime. You should check your feet daily for signs of ingrown toenails or any other problems.
  • Should I be worried about my ingrown toenail?

    If you experience pain around your ingrown toenail along with swollen or red skin, bleeding, pus or excess skin, then you may have an infection. It’s important that this is treated quickly and effectively so that it doesn’t cause more serious issues.

    Go and see your podiatrist if you are worried about your ingrown toenail or think you may have an infection. They will be able to give you the help and advice you need for happy, healthy feet!

  • Do ingrown toenails “run in the family”?

    Yes, some people are genetically predisposed to ingrown toenails and just can’t help developing them. However, with the right care and guidance from your podiatrist, you will be able to manage your condition and keep your toenails free from infections and complications.

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