Bodyworks: Ingrowing Toenail

Symptoms
You’ll feel pain down the side of the nail of the big toe (hallux), especially to the touch.

Signs
The signs are obvious – and unpleasant. There’ll be reddening, festering and ultimately discharge of pus, caused by the side of the nail growing into the adjoining skin.

Medical investigations
A swab of the pus will usually confirm the growth of bacteria.

What else could it be?
IGTN could be confused with an infection of the nail bed, or with sub-ungual haematomas (stubbed toes) – see below.

Self-treatment
Proper nail care is the key. Cut them squarely and not in a curve, lift out the edges gently twice a day and support these raised sides with little cotton wool balls or slivers of silver foil. Clean around your nails with an antiseptic wash, pat them dry with tissues, then put on a protective dry dressing and clean socks.

Medical treatment
A swab will usually confirm that antibiotics are the right course of action. If the condition becomes recurrent, removal of the nail and growth bed is a drastic but definitive solution.

Can you run through it?
You may be able to run if you wear shoes with plenty of toe space to prevent pressure and pain. You should definitely avoid racing until the condition has been cleared up. Without treatment, the signs and symptoms will worsen.

Recovery time
Antibiotics should have you back to full speed within a week, but this will at least double if surgery is required.