Ingrown toenails….what a pain!


Ingrown toenails are not just the curse of adolescent boys, in fact they are a very common problem for all (ahem) walks of life.   Causes include improperly trimmed toenails, very curved nail edges, shoe pressure, sport, accidents or repeated trauma to the feet from daily activities. A predisposition for ingrown toenails may also be inherited (thanks Mum).

Pain in the sulcus (the fleshy bits at the side of your nail) can also be caused by a corn or callous under the nail edge.

Most cases are managed conservatively by visiting your podiatrist regularly but unfortunately, some require minor surgical correction.

Most people think that this requires a trip to the GP but did you know that Podiatrists are fully qualified to perform the procedure and the surgery can be conducted very easily in your podiatrist’s clinic using a local anaesthetic.

So what exactly is an Ingrown toenail and how do I know I have one?

First, believe me when I say that you’ll know if you have one!

An ingrown toenail is classified as a nail that has pierced (or is pressing against) the adjacent skin of the toe causing pain and inflammation and sometimes infection.

The first thing you will notice is pain or discomfort ranging from moderate to excruciating.

Other signs to look out for include:

  • redness of the skin around the nail
  • bleeding
  • pus
  • heat
  • hypergranulation tissue (red, sometimes shiny and soft looking flesh that is above the level of the surrounding skin)

If the toe omits an odour, has green pus or is hot to the touch, contact your GP as soon as possible as these indicate infection is present.

Surgery may be required when an ingrown toenail repeatedly becomes infected, is painful, the sufferer is unable to wear shoes or the condition inhibits work, sport or other activities.

Nail surgery performed by podiatrists
One of the most common nail procedures is called a Partial Nail Avulsion. The procedure is usually performed in the same room you see your podiatrist and patients are able to walk immediately afterwards.The procedure itself is performed under local anaesthetic via an injection to the toe to numb the area. The anaesthetic will most often wear off in a few hours.

Once numb, a tight elastic ring called a tourniquet is applied to the toe to control bleeding and maximise the anaesthetic in the area (always a good thing) and the toe is prepped to minimise the risk of infection.

When it is confirmed that the area is completely numb, the portion of nail to be removed is then gently lifted, resected and removed without the need to make any incision to the toe and without the need for stitching. Both sides of the nail may be removed this way at the same time. If it is necessary, the entire nail can be removed.  This is usually done when the nail itself is deformed or thickened to prevent further complications later. A chemical is applied to assist in preventing nail re-growth.
Once the procedure is completed, the tourniquet is removed and a sterile surgical dressing is applied. If everything goes to plan, the whole thing will be over in less than an hour and the majority of patients are able to walk immediately afterwards, however assistance getting home is strongly recommended.

ingrown toenail

This sore toe is a real example of an ingrown toenail.

What happens after the procedure?
The Podiatrist will see you the next day for a check and will give you full instructions on how to look after the toe at home including dressings and what to do if you become concerned.
Minimal pain relief medication is required – you can discuss this with your podiatrist as some medications are not suitable pre or post-surgery.

What are the potential complications?
As with all surgery, complications are possible and your podiatrist will discuss this in full with you to ensure that you are making an informed decision about your care. However, as long as the procedure is carried out by a professional and follow up instructions are followed, complications post this type of procedure are minimal.

The most common risk is postoperative infection, which is treated easily by antibiotics.  All nail procedures have been associated with a slight chance of recurrence. Your podiatrist can advise you and manage these and other complications that may occur.

If you have podiatry cover with your health fund, part of the cost may be covered but as individual funds differ, ask your podiatrist for a list of codes and you can ask your health fund in advance and avoid unwanted costs.

Finally, your podiatrist will never recommend surgery if they feel it isn’t in your best interest. We are here to help so if you have any questions please contact us on 7099 8112 or pop in for a chat.  Don’t forget you can book appointments online at

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New Client Offer and Extended Hours

Michelle has extended her available hours and is now taking podiatry appointments during the following times:
  • Tuesday evenings
  • Wednesday business hours
  • Saturday mornings

If you have never had an appointment with Michelle, for a limited time she will offer a $10 discount to eligible new clients*.

Check Michelle’s availability now.

Megan has also extended her available hours and is now taking Physiotherapy appointments during these times:
  • Monday 8am – 3pm
  • Tuesday 130pm – 8pm
  • Wednesday 1pm – 5pm
  • Friday 8am – 3pm
  • Saturday mornings

If you have never had an appointment with Megan, for a limited time she will offer a $10 discount to eligible new clients*. Feel free to forward this email to a friend. We will offer the new client discount to them as well.

Check Megan’s availability now.

* New Client Offer not available to Alliance, DVA or Medicare clients. Appointment times subject to availability. New Client Offer concludes July 31st.