Condition spotlight

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails (also known as onychocryptosis) occur when a piece of the nail grows into the surrounding skin. This can often cause discomfort and, if left untreated, may result in the nail piercing the skin and becoming infected.

Here are some of the risk factors that can increase your chance of developing ingrown nails:

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ingrown toenails
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Frequently asked questions about Ingrown Toenails

Why are ingrown nails common in kids and teenagers?

Kids’ feet are always growing which means that their current shoes may become too tight, causing increased pressure at the nail as their feet continue to develop. They are also common in children who play sports where greater pressure is placed on the toes in sports such as soccer, ballet, netball and football. Ingrown toenails also occur commonly in teenagers due to the increased oil and sweat production on their skin, making the skin more soft and prone to breaking.

What can happen if it is not treated?

If the toenail is left untreated, it may not resolve on its own. The pain and inflammation can progress further as mentioned in the stages above, increasing the chance of infection. If not dealt with appropriately this infection can continue to fester and result in severe enough pain that will even make daily activities miserable. Antibiotics may help manage the skin infection, however for an ingrown nail to fully resolve it requires the offending portion of the nail to be removed. This is why treatment is especially important for people with diabetes and poor circulation, as their risk of developing serious complications is greater.

Will cutting a ‘V’ in my nail stop me from getting an ingrown toenail?

This is an old fashioned remedy that was thought to prevent ingrowns by encouraging the nail to grow toward the centre. We do not recommend this technique as this will not affect the direction of nail growth, nor will it reduce the pressure of an ingrown nail. Cutting a “V” will only encourage the nail to catch onto socks and bed sheets, potentially causing the nail to tear.

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