Expert Opinion


What is an ingrown nail?

If the nail plate grows into the tissues of the nail bedsides due to its anatomical structure or some other reason, this is called an ingrown nail.

This is one of the most common foot problems. An ingrown nail can very negatively affect the quality of life and make it impossible to work.

The nail may grow inside the soft tissue from the edge due to improper cutting/trimming, or from its root due to structural defects.

  • This problem is less common in infants and children, more common in adults and adolescents. Men suffer from it more often than women. Young people between the ages of 20 and 30 are at higher risk.
  • Most commonly an ingrown nail is formed on the big toe, but it happens on the other toenails too.
  • An ingrown nail not only causes discomfort and/or pain when walking but can also serious problems from infections to osteomyelitis or systemic infection that can spread to the entire body.

What are the symptoms of an ingrown nail?

Initial symptoms

Sensitivity of the skin around the nail, puffiness, hardening of soft tissues, feeling of pain when touched or pressed.

If an infection develops;

  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Purulent inflammation
  • Excessive skin thickening on the toe

What causes an ingrown nail?

  • Improper nail trimming/cutting: cutting it too short, cutting off the nail sides
  • Unsuitable shoes: narrow, tight, pointed shoes
  • Constant excessive sweating or poor foot care: people who exercise regularly or athletes are more likely to suffer from ingrown nails because they sweat too much.
  • Poor hygiene conditions: the risk of ingrown nails increases if you do not wash your feet regularly.
  • Various diseases: systemic diseases such as obesity, thyroid dysfunction, diabetes mellitus, gout, acromegaly, rheumatoid arthritis can cause ingrown nails.
  • Structure: deep lateral groove of the nail bed and extreme bulge of the nail.
  • Other causes: injuries, fungal infections, nail thickening can also cause the formation of ingrown nails.

What is the treatment?

Surgery is the last resort as it removes the nail partially or entirely. Treatment, however, aims to fix the nail before any operation is needed.

There are two main non-surgical methods for treating ingrown nails: plates and wire braces. Plastic pipes and supporting pads introduced under the tip of the nail are less commonly used.

Plate application; Plate is made of synthetic material and fiberglass. The plate is placed across the nail so that the pressure of the nail plate on the nail bed is reduced and its sides are fixed in a raised position.

The plates are used in the following cases: partial surgery on the nails, nail infection and fungus, presence of hyper granular tissue, and preparation for installing the wire braces.

Installing the wire brace (orthorexia); a brace made of an alloy of titanium and stainless surgical steel is selected and adjusted individually for the patient’s nail. Brace relieves stress on the nail plate. The nail grows freely, as the staple corrects the growth direction and prevents nail deformation. The staple can be tightened or loosened during the treatment period. Staples for ingrown nails have many advantages. The procedure allows you to quickly relieve pain, wear shoes and return to your normal everyday life immediately after the procedure.

What health problems can occur if you do not treat an ingrown nail?

Ingrown nails not only cause pain but can also lead to serious problems, such as osteomyelitis or systemic infection that can spread to the entire body.

How to prevent ingrown nails?

  • Proper foot hygiene. Wash your feet regularly and then dry them well. It is recommended to wash your feet with soap and water every day.
  • Change your socks daily. Use cotton rather than synthetic socks. In the case of an Athlete's foot, nail thickening should be removed as soon as possible.
  • It is important that the nails are trimmed correctly. Toenails should be cut straight, not oval, and not too short. Do not leave the corners sharp, they should be slightly rounded. It is easier to cut nails after bathing when the nails are soft.
  • Do not wear tight narrow shoes that squeeze your feet. Choose comfortable shoes that fit your foot shape. In case of foot diseases (such as flat feet), adjustments should be used.
  • If you have diabetes, you should examine your feet daily for an ingrown toenail or other foot health problems to prevent them at an early stage.

Note: If the symptoms persist, consult a doctor immediately. In the case of an ingrown nail do not try to correct the problem yourself as this may worsen the situation.


Will the ingrown nail heal by itself?

An ingrown nail does not heal by itself. But in the very beginning when the nail only begins to bother and injure the skin, it can be corrected with proper care and medical creams. However, if the ingrown nail appeared due to an orthopedic cause, anatomical foot structure, or dermatological problem, the situation cannot be improved with the help of preventive methods or simple techniques.

How long does it take to treat an ingrown nail?

At the initial stage correction with proper cutting/trimming and creams will take 2 weeks. Unfortunately, people usually ignore ingrown nails at this stage and consult a doctor when the pain becomes unbearable. The use of plates and brace brings results in 8-10 weeks. However, the treatment process can sometimes last for months due to repetitive factors causing ingrown nails, in difficult cases of very deep in growth, and also depending on the individual healing rate.

Where should I go with the problem of an ingrown nail?

Where shall I take an appointment? What medical branch can help me?

We are often asked such questions.

Unfortunately, people who do not have special knowledge and experience are trying to treat ingrown nails. First of all, avoid centers that are not supervised by a medical doctor. First, the nail should be treated with non-surgical procedures. Surgery is the last resort. Dermatology will help at this stage. For this reason, you should consult a dermatologist.

What shoes should I wear with ingrown nails?

Do not wear tight narrow shoes that do not allow air. If you have an ingrown nail, choose wide comfortable shoes that “breath”.