Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are frustrating, painful, and can make performing the simplest daily tasks very difficult. They also tend to get worse and more difficult to fix when left untreated, which means that it’s important to seek treatment immediately.


What are ingrown toenails?

Having an ingrown toenail means that part of your toenail has pierced and grown into the surrounding skin. Even the smallest piece of nail has the potential to cause severe pain and swelling. This is because while the nail continues to pierce the skin, the cut it has created in the skin cannot close and heal. When combined with the slight movement and vibrations through the nail with every step we take, leads to continuing pain, swelling and a lot of ‘ouch!‘ moments throughout the day and night. 


Here are some quick facts about ingrown toenails:


  • Any nail can become ingrown, though it commonly occurs in the big toes
  • One or both sides of the toenail can ingrow at the same time
  • This problem can run in families because of similar shapes of the nails
  • Once you get an ingrown toenail, you’re more likely to get it again
  • Ingrown toenails can occur at any age, even in babies just months old!
  • Two of the most common causes of ingrown toenails are tight footwear and an improper nail cutting technique, such as cutting down the sides of the nails or pulling/picking off the nail




You may have an ingrown toenail if:


  • The skin surrounding the nail is red, swollen or tender
  • You feel pain in the toe which is worsened when you touch it
  • The toe may bleed or there may be yellow/white/clear discharge
  • It’s painful to wear (tight) shoes because of the pressure on your toe
  • Even the pressure from bedsheets feels like daggers or causes an ache/throb


Be aware of infection


Because an ingrown toenail is an open wound, it is vulnerable to infection if bacteria get to it – which isn’t too difficult given the location down at the feet. This is why it’s important to effectively treat ingrown toenails, especially if you have diabetes, nerve damage or poor circulation, all of which increase your risk of complications. If you fall into this category, it’s important that you don’t attempt to treat ingrown toenails at home and instead seek the help of their Podiatrist as soon as possible. If you think you have an infection, make an appointment with your Podiatrist immediately.


Treating Ingrown Toenails


When it comes to treating ingrown toenails, there are two distinct categories of treatment in podiatry: Conservative care and Surgical correction.


Conservative Care

Conservative care means that we remove the troublesome nail edge that has penetrated the skin with minimal impact on the nail itself. It’s simple, quick and usually not done under anaesthetic so there may be a little bit of discomfort that is quickly followed by a lot of relief.

While this is a great option to relieve pain for those with first-time ingrown toenails, this does not permanently correct the nail or stop it from coming back again.


Surgical Correction

Surgical correction means that we complete a minor nail surgery to both remove the bothersome nail edge and importantly, apply a chemical that’ll stop that particular edge growing back! If you tend to get worried about the term ‘surgery’, then please don’t. This small procedure is done within an hour at our clinic in your regular podiatry chair and all under local anaesthetic so you don’t feel a thing.

To put you at ease, you can watch a timelapse of the procedure being completed here at Masterton Foot Clinic: (warning: discretion is advised, this is the actual procedure with no censoring)



We cannot recommend this procedure highly enough as the best solution for ingrown toenails. It:

  • Permanently corrects ingrown toenails in one procedure
  • Is performed simply and safely in-clinic
  • Is completed within 60 minutes, which includes preparing and anaesthetising the foot toe as well as dressing the toe after the procedure is complete
  • Performed under local anaesthetic so is pain-free
  • Does not require you to take any additional time off work/school following the procedure and you can go home immediately
  • Does not require you to wear any special boots or braces while the toe heals
  • Causes very little post-procedure discomfort, however, painkillers can be taken should discomfort arise


Unsure if a PNA is right for you?

While we can’t give direct quotes without examining your toe, we are happy to provide guidance and pricing guides if you want to send us a photo of your painful toe and toenail. You can email this to adam@mastertonfootclinic.co.nz 


Health Insurance

Masterton Foot Clinic is both a Southern Cross Health Insurance provider and a WINZ accredited provider. We offer no-obligation free WINZ quotes, just call to book an appointment and let our receptionist know.