20 per cent of people visiting their doctor have a problem with an ingrown toenail.

Ingrown toenails can be a real pain in your life. Check out what to do for an ingrown toenail and how to recognise the symptoms of an infected ingrown toenail. 

What is an ingrown toenail?

A common but very uncomfortable condition, ingrown toenails occur when the nail penetrates where the skin meets the nail fold. This can be painful and lead to infection, as well as causing the nearby skin to re-grow over the nail, exacerbating the issue. If an infected ingrown toenail isn’t treated then walking and movement can be difficult, and your quality of life can be impacted.


noun, Greek

Onycho- nail, crypto-hidden: hidden nail

Ingrown toenail, unguis incartatus, involuted toenail

Convoluted toenail.

What causes an ingrown toenail?

There’s a lot of debate about whether the problem is nail growth or skin growth. If you have excessive skin around the nail, constant pressure from walking can cause the nail fold to bulge up around your nail, leading to the nail growing into the skin. Most podiatrists believe that the nail grows into the skin fold, causing pain and inflammation and new tissue (granulating tissue) to grow over the damaged area. If you need to know how to treat ingrown toenail issues, whatever the origin of the problem, The Foot Hub can get you back on your feet.


Risk Factors For Ingrown Toenails?

Although ingrown toenails affect men between the ages of 14-25 most commonly, anyone can suffer from ingrown toenails. The big toenail is usually the culprit for ingrown toenail discomfort and problems, and the issue usually affects one side of the nail. 

What causes ingrown toenails? There are several factors that make ingrown toenails more likely: improper toenail cutting, tight-fitting shoes, impact and trauma to the nail, pre-existing medical conditions and medication, age, congenital disposition and excessive sweating.  


Podiatrists are qualified professionals who specialise in foot conditions. They are trained to provide patients with treatment for ingrown toenails. 

Ingrown Toenail Symptoms

Your symptoms can be different depending on which category of ingrown toenail you have; mild, moderate or severe.

  • Mild – Swelling of the skin around the toenail, inflammation and pain when pressure is applied to the toenail
  • Moderate – Increased swelling, signs of pus around the nail, indications of infection (redness and swelling), a toenail fungal infection and sores on the skin (ulceration)
  • Severe – Continual and worsening inflammation and new skin growth (granulation)
Stages and Symptoms of Ingrown Toenails
Stage 1: Mild
  • Redness
  • Minor Swelling
  • Pain when toenails is compressed
Stage 2: Moderate
  • Increased inflammation
  • Warm to moderate swelling
  • White or yellow pus or fluid coming from the toenail
  • Small overgrowth of skin over toenail
Stage 3: Severe
  • Severe inflammation
  • Severe swelling
  • Severe growth of skin around the toenail leading to overlapping
  • Bleeding, pus and fluid present at site
  • Odor

Signs of an ingrown toenail

  • Pain, tenderness, unusual warmth or throbbing on either side of the nail
  • Inflammation and redness with swelling on either side of the nail
  • Pain when putting pressure on the nail
  • Bleeding, pus or fluid coming from the affected area
  • Pain when walking or wearing shoes
  • Pain or discomfort from the weight of a blanket or sheet

What to do for an ingrown toenail?

If you have some or all of the symptoms listed above and are wondering how to treat ingrown toenails, you will probably require treatment. Depending on how early you identify the issue, your treatment options will vary. If you need to treat an ingrown toenail in Sydney, give us a call.

Home Treatment

Some of the typical home treatments can be effective in treating an ingrown toenail, if it’s in the mild or moderate stages. You may need to visit a podiatrist to seek further treatment if the following treatments don’t bring relief:

  • Trimming the side of your nail to avoid nail-fold contact
  • Wearing wide-fitting shoes to avoid pressure on the nail
  • Soaking your toenail in Epsom salts or soapy water for 10-20 minutes then applying an antiseptic or antibacterial cream to the area
  • Using dental floss or a thin filament to lift the corner of your nail and prevent contact with the nail fold

If you don’t see any improvement after home treatment, your next option is to come see a professional podiatrist. At The Foot Hub we want you to be comfortable and happy, so we will assess your toenail, discuss potential treatment options and make sure you understand all the positives and the risks of that treatment. We put your preferences first, and ensure that you are happy and relaxed before any ingrown toenail surgery.

Podiatry Treatment

Before we begin a treatment plan we first make sure all your questions have been answered and you understand the treatment. The Foot Hub podiatrists are experts in treating ingrown toenails, and will suggest only the treatments that are necessary and will help you get your recovery underway.

We often see patients who leave it until the last moment to visit a podiatrist, out of fear of treatment. We pride ourselves on knowing how to help patients relax and feel comfortable, knowing they are in good hands. We’ve seen every type of ingrown nail issue, and there’s no ingrown toenail that we can’t help you with. We love to see our patients getting back to their lives after a successful and stress-free treatment plan with us.

So stop worrying, don’t be nervous. We know what to do for an ingrown toenail, and can help you get back to your life quickly and easily.

Ingrown Toenail Surgery

We will present you with a number of different treatment options, and if home treatment and less invasive options are not working, then surgery might be the best option for you.

Our friendly podiatrists are trained and registered experts in ingrown toenail surgery. Our treatment procedure uses a non-damaging acid that destroys the nail root without damaging the toe, with a 98.5 per cent success rate.

Surgery can sound like a scary word, but with The Foot Hub, it will be simple and easy. With our careful and well-planned treatments, you can be in and out in the same day and walking right away. Toenail surgery recovery is fast, so don’t let fear or nerves stop you from getting your mobility back. 

Complications of ingrown toenails


If ingrown toenail issues are left to get worse, they can result in these problems:

  • Permanent changes to your nail structure
  • Significant pain and mobility reduction – negatively impacting your lifestyle
  • Problems wearing footwear
  • Fever from an infected ingrown toenail
  • Excessive skin growth around the nail
  • Cellulitis infections
  • Osteomyelitis bone infections

How to prevent ingrown toenails?


If you’ve suffered from ingrown toenails before, there are some steps you can take to prevent the issue from recurring:

  • Trimming your toenails with sharp nail scissors/clippers
  • Avoid excessive sweating
  • Wearing well-fitting shoes
  • Visiting your podiatrist for professional nail cutting
  • Ingrown toenail surgery to remove problem nails

Frequently Asked Questions

Sodium Sulphide commonly sold as over the counter as Dr Scholl’s Ingrown Toenail Reliever is a safe solution that can be used to apply to ingrown toenails. As mentioned, ingrown toenails are caused by the nail edge growing into the nail fold and in some cases, you will need to have the nail removed to help settle your condition.

Though the big toenails are the most affected, you can have an ingrown toenail on any toe. Patients can present with multiple with ingrown toenails, this is usually can be attributed to medical conditions such as Psoriasis or post-partum.

Yes, bunions can cause ingrown toenails particularly in the inside toenail due to pressure from contacting the second toe. Wearing well-fitting wide shoes can help resolve this or you may need to consider ingrown toenail surgery if this is any going problem.

Coconut has been shown to have many therapeutic benefits. However, applying coconut to your ingrown toenail may cause the skin to soften making it easier for your nail plate to penetrate your skin and thus worsen your ingrown toenail. Excessive moisture around the nail fold is a risk factor for ingrown toenails.

About 2% of newborn babies are noted at birth to have ingrown toenails because the growing nail plate is very short. It is rarely painful. The appearance rights itself within a year or so.

If you have an ingrown toenail, we recommend nice wide fitting shoes with a toe box with ample space. If possible, wearing sandals or other forms of open shoes. Limiting the wear of heels which cause your toes to claw and cramp into the front.

Yes saltwater/ Epsom salt foot soaks can help with ingrown toenails. We recommend soaking the affected foot/feet for at least 30 minutes, 2 times a day for 7 days. If there is no improvement or if it worsens, seek medical advice from your Podiatrist.

Though there are no studies to support its efficacy, some people have reported some therapeutic benefit when using it. However, applying Vick’s Vapor rub to your ingrown toenail may cause the skin to soften making it easier for your nail plate to penetrate your skin and thus worsen your ingrown toenail. Excessive moisture around the nail fold is a risk factor for ingrown toenails.

Hydrogen Peroxide is a solution that can used to clean the ingrown toenail especially if its infected and weeping. It will not actively treat your ingrown toenail

During pregnancy particular in the 3rd Trimester, a pregnant women’s feet tend to swell. This can cause ingrown toenails to occur to the excess pressure around the nail plate. We recommend a general Podiatry foot treatment for pregnant woman in their 3rd trimester to avoid any potential foot complications such as ingrown toenails, plantar warts or heel pain.

Urea cream is more commonly used for fungal toenail treatment to help reduce nail thickness and improve permeability of the nail plate. If your ingrown toenail is caused by a thickened toenail, then urea cream maybe beneficial to you. Fungal toenail infections can lead to ingrown toenails, so actively treating the infection can help treat the ingrown toenail.


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Have an infected ingrown toenail and dont know what to do? The Foot Hub offers meticulous cost effective treatment options for ingrown toenails.


Have an infected ingrown toenail and dont know what to do? The Foot Hub offers meticulous cost effective treatment options for ingrown toenails.


There are many causes that can result in someone having an ingrown toenail but one common question that we get asked by our patients is whether or not exercise such as running, can cause ingrown toenails.

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