Ingrowing toenails

Including nail surgery under local anaesthetic.

The medical term for this condition is onychogryphosis. Ingrowing toenails can be extremely painful. In severe cases, there is nearly always evidence of swelling around the toe and frequently infection due to a spike of nail piercing the adjacent tissues. Antibiotics are useful when there is a risk of developing further complications, such as when the infection starts to spread. However, apart from helping to reduce swelling and infection, antibiotics do not deal with the source of the problem.

Ingrowing toenails occur when the edge of the nail involutes or curves round sharply into the nail sulcus. The cure for this problem is to remove the offending object! This can often be achieved using nail nippers to cut down the edge of the nail and remove the nail spike. Surprisingly, this can often be done with minimal pain!

However, depending on the severity of the problem, it may require either a partial or total removal of the nail plate. These procedures are known as a partial nail avulsion and a total nail ablation. A local anaesthetic is injected into the toe to dull any pain. This provides a long-term solution to the problem because a chemical is placed at the root of the nail in order to stop regrowth. This works in 96 percent of cases. After the procedure, the toe is dressed and kept clean. You can still remain mobile afterwards, however, the toe needs to be protected and certain activities should be avoided for a couple of weeks.

In less severe cases of ingrowing toenails, a toe brace can be fitted to pull the sides of the nail away from the underlying tissue. This can bring about immediate relief and it also helps to straighten the toenail over time as it grows out.


Nail surgery: total nail ablation – £300

Nail surgery: partial nail avulsion – £150


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