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Your Guide to Treating Ingrown Toenails: Conservative and Surgical Options

Ingrown toenails are a common foot problem that can cause significant discomfort and pain. Understanding the available treatment options, including both conservative methods and surgical procedures, can help you make informed decisions about your foot health. At Wombwell and Brinsworth Foot Clinics, we specialise in a variety of treatments tailored to the severity of your condition.

Conservative Treatments

For mild to moderate cases of ingrown toenails, conservative treatments can be highly effective. These methods aim to relieve pain and prevent further growth of the nail into the skin.

  1. Nail Cutting and Packing: Proper nail cutting techniques are crucial in managing and preventing ingrown toenails. In some cases, packing small pieces of cotton wool under the nail can help it grow above the skin edge, reducing pressure and pain.

  2. Antibiotics: If there is an infection present, antibiotics can help depending on the severity, to redcue pain and swelling in the area, paired with correct nail cutting can help greatly.

  3. Soaking and Foot Care: Soaking your feet in warm water & salt can help to sooth and dry around the ingorwn toenail if it is producing pus or fluid from the wound; until you get in to see us in clinic. This should be done once a day, followed by gentle drying and applying a clean breathable plaster to protect the area.

  4. Footwear Adjustments: Wearing shoes that provide ample space for your toes can prevent pressure on the ingrown toenail.

Partial Nail Avulsion

When conservative treatments are insufficient, partial nail avulsion may be necessary. This surgical procedure involves removing the part of the nail that is ingrown.

  • Procedure: The affected toe is numbed using a local anesthetic. The ingrown portion of the nail is then carefully cut and removed. This procedure is often combined with a chemical treatment to prevent the ingrown portion from regrowing, known as phenolisation.

  • Recovery: Post-procedure, the toe is bandaged, and patients are given aftercare instructions to keep the area clean and dry. Pain after the procedure is usually minimal. Most patients experience relief from pain almost immediately and can return to normal activities within a few days.

Total Nail Avulsion

In severe or recurrent cases, a total nail avulsion might be recommended. This involves removing the entire toenail.

  • Procedure: Similar to partial nail avulsion, the toe is numbed with a local anesthetic. The entire nail is then carefully removed. This procedure is often combined with a chemical treatment to prevent the ingrown portion from regrowing, known as phenolisation.

  • Recovery: Recovery from a total nail avulsion takes longer than partial removal. The area will need to be kept clean and dry, and follow-up visits may be required to ensure proper healing.

Preventing Ingrown Toenails

Prevention is key to avoiding the discomfort of ingrown toenails. Here are some tips to keep your feet healthy:

  • Proper Nail Trimming: Avoid cutting sharply/deep down the corners, or cutting and pulling nails. Use clean, sharp nail clippers.

  • Choose Comfortable Footwear: Ensure your shoes fit well and provide enough room for your toes. Avoid tight or narrow shoes that can press on the toenails.

  • Foot Hygiene: Keep your feet clean and dry. Regularly inspect your feet for any signs of ingrown toenails, especially if you have diabetes or other conditions that affect foot health.


At Wombwell and Brinsworth Foot Clinics, we understand how debilitating ingrown toenails can be. Our expert team is dedicated to providing effective treatments, from conservative methods to surgical options like partial and total nail avulsion. If you're struggling with ingrown toenails, don't hesitate to reach out and schedule an appointment. We're here to help you walk comfortably again!

Book your appointment with our experts today and step into comfort and relief!

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