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Ingrowing toenails

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Download our Ingrown toenail information pack


In-grown toenails are common, particularly among teenagers. In-growing toenails can be very painful, they may also become infected. The most common cause of an in-grown toenail is poor nail cutting.

If your child has an in-grown toenail you should seek treatment at early on. Quite often, if detected early, the nail is not fully in-grown. Instead, the top corner of the nail is pressing into the skin around it; this is called a nail spike. At nail spikes can be removed in clinic quickly and with little or no discomfort. If the nail is fully in-grown then Nail surgery under local anaesthetic may be required.

What is an in-grown toenail?

An in-grown toenail occurs when one or both sides of a nail grow and press into the tissue around it. The big toenail is most commonly affected; however an in grown toenail may develop at any toe. An in-grown toenail can be very painful due to the pressure the in-grown portion of nail places on the surrounding tissues, which are often pierced by the nail. Quite often the surrounding skin will become red and inflamed, it may even become infected.

What causes in-grown toenails in children?

The causes of in-growing toenails in children are varied. Some possible causes for an in-grown toenail include:

  • Poor nail cutting
  • Fungal nails
  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • Tight socks/tights
  • Neurological conditions

There are certain groups of children who are at increased risk of developing an in-grown toenail. For example, children that have 'involuted' or 'pincer' shaped nails are more at risk. Children who have involuted or pincer nails are at increased risk of in-grown toenails because these nail types have a curve to the nail that is exaggerated, the effect of this is 'pinching' of the skin.

What are the signs and symptoms of an in-grown toenail?

If your child has an in-grown toenail they may complain of pain at the side of the nail affected, in the early stages the pain may be present only when wearing footwear. This is because footwear puts pressure on the nail edges, pressing the nail further into the surrounding tissue. The in-grown toenail may cause your child to limp and alter the way they walk; they may also not want to participate in activities, such as sports.

The signs that your child has an in-grown toenail include the following:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Pus

If your child has any of the above signs it is important that they are assessed by a podiatrist in order to establish what the cause is and begin appropriate treatment.

How is an ingrown toenail diagnosed?

At an in-grown toenail can be quickly and easily diagnosed based on the signs and symptoms and an examination of the affected toe.

Benefits of Podiatry for a child with an ingrown toenail

If your child has an in-grown toenail your child will benefit from podiatry. At, in many cases, we can remove the offending nail spike quickly and painlessly in the initial appointment. You will then be given advice on nail cutting and what to do to prevent re-occurrence.

Benefits of podiatry for a child with an in-growing toenail include:

  • Reduction in pain
  • Removal of offending piece of nail
  • Reduction in inflammation

If the nail is fully in-grown the only option is Nail surgery. Nail surgery is performed under local anaesthetic here at the clinic. The local anaesthetic is given via injection into the affected toe. The effect of the anaesthetic is no pain; this means that during the procedure your child will not feel anything. The benefit of nail surgery for an in-grown toenail is the removal of the offending portion of nail and the elimination of pain.

What would podiatry for my child's in-grown toenail involve?

If your child has an in-grown toenail we will first need to assess him/her. The assessment is compulsory and covers topics such as medical history, history of the problem and signs and symptoms. The assessment is then followed by an examination of the affected nail. Sometimes the nail spike can be removed there and then, painlessly. If nail surgery is required the procedure will be explained fully, and an assessment for surgery will take place. If the nail is infected your child will require antibiotics prior to surgery.


In-grown toenails are very common among children and teenagers. An in-grown toenail is painful and can lead to infection. As soon as a toenail begins to in-grow it should be assessed, this is because in many cases, if treated early, nail surgery may be avoided. If your child has an in-grown toenail visit At we assess, diagnose, treat, and provide aftercare for in-grown toenails. If you want to arrange an appointment with us at please Email or call 0330 088 4222.

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