Learn About Ailments | Ingrown Toe Nail

Ingrown Toe Nail

Ingrowing toe nails also known as Onychocryptosis or unguis incarnates is a common nail problem. The condition is very painful form of nail disease in which nail grows or cuts into one/ both sides of the nail bed. Whilst this condition can occur on the hands and feet it occurs most commonly in the feet.
Ingrown Toe Nail

In This Article
Watch the ingrown toenail video Causes of ingrown toe nail
Symptoms of ingrown toenail Diagnosis of ingrown toenail
Related terms


Did you know?
  • In 70-90% of ingrown toe nail cases, partial removal of the nail cures the problem
  • 1 in 40 people suffer with an ingrown toe nail
  • There are 10,000 cases of ingrown toe nail in the UK each year
  • Young men aged 14-25 are most susceptible to ingrown toe nails

When the toenail curves and cuts into the skin surface it can result in swelling, tenderness and infection. The big toe is most commonly affected on either side of the nail and if left untreated can cause pain when walking and serious infection.

The common causes of an ingrown toenail are:

  • Cutting toenails incorrectly – by cutting the nail too short or rounding off the edges of the nail, the skin surrounding it can fold across resulting in the nail growing into the skin.
  • Tight shoes, socks and tights – restricting room for the toes to move in by wearing shoes, socks or tights that are too small or narrow can cause the nail to curve into the surrounding skin.
  • Foot hygiene – if the foot is too warm and moist the chances of an ingrown toenail increase.
  • Injury – stubbing a toe or dropping something heavy on it can result in an ingrown toenail developing.
  • Genetics – posture while standing and gait (the way someone walks) can cause toenails to curve when growing.

The first symptoms of an ingrown toenail are swollen and tender skin around the nail. Once the skin's surface has been pierced by the nail, the area can become infected resulting in blood and pus oozing from the edge.


An ingrown toenail can also appear red and inflamed and be painful to stand or walk on.

The symptoms of an ingrown toenail are usually obvious for you to diagnose the problem but a visit to the GP will be necessary if the condition is severe. A GP will examine the nail and may prescribe antibiotics to clear up any infection. You may be referred to a podiatrist for further treatment and if necessary surgery to correct the problem.

Unguis incarnatus
Nail avulsion

Therapies to consider
Podiatry (Chiropody)

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