Ingrown Toenails — How A Chiropodist Can Help

Do you have a swollen, red, painful toenail? Is your toenail oozing with pus? It’s likely an infected ingrown toenail.

An ingrown toenail results in pain along the edge of the toenail.  It is often aggravated by wearing shoes, particularly those with narrow toes.  The toe may be sensitive to any pressure, even the weight of bed sheets might hurt. There may be signs of infection and drainage of pus or a watery discharged tinged with blood.

Ingrown toenails are one of the more common foot problems treated by chiropodists and podiatrists.

Treatment for Ingrown Toenails

What causes ingrown toenails?

  • Improper trimming of toenails
  • Tight fitting shoes which compress the toes together
  • Hose or socks that are too tight
  • Abnormally shaped nail plate
  • Other toenail deformities (ie. excessively thick nail plate)
  • Trauma to the nail plate or toe

They can be very painful, with people limiting their activity to keep off their sore feet.

Ingrown toenails are caused by impingement of the skin along the margins of the nail by the nail plate. Some ingrown toenails are chronic, with repeated episodes of pain and infection. Pain can be present without infection, and occasionally infection is present without pain.

Signs of infection

  • Redness (erythema)
  • Swelling
  • Increased warmth
  • Pain

Complications of having an ingrown toenail

  • Infection, if present, may spread to the foot and leg, or into the blood stream.

  • Loss of nail plate from infection or inflammation of the nail bed.

  • Chronic ingrown nails can cause deformity of the nail plate and/or surrounding soft tissues.

  • A small benign tumor called a granuloma can form along the nail margin.

  • Diabetics and those with poor circulation to the feet must never attempt to treat an ingrown toenail at home. Consult with a chiropodist, podiatrist or physician immediately.

Treatment for ingrown toenails

Patients who suffer from ingrown toenails often require regular footcare treatments by a chiropodist or podiatrist. Regular care is often enough to avoid problems.

Another option is a custom nail brace. This brace is applied to the nail to slightly lift the nail edge so that the curved edge may grow out straight.

Ingrown toenail braces

Corrective nail braces are medical devices, similiar to dental braces which use tension to exert a change in tissues.

Chronic curved and ingrown toenails are painful and can greatly affect your enjoyment of life.

There is a wide variance in the severity of ingrown nails, and thus a wide range of treatment options. These range from simple warm salt water soaks, to nail packing, nail removal and in chronic, unstable cases surgical removal of the ingrown nails.

Ingrown toenails are often caused by genetic predispositions. However, ingrown toenails may also develop when the toenail is not trimmed properly or when you wear inappropriate shoes. Ingrown nails are very painful and may get infected.

To avoid unpleasant surgical interventions, chiropodists and podiatrists offer many treatments for deformed or ingrown toenails. Corrective nail braces are medical devices, similar to dental braces which use tension to exert a change in tissues. The application of a custom nail brace takes only a few minutes, and can fully fix problems with your toenails. Within a certain time after the application of nail braces, the treated nail is often completely straightened.

Ingrown Toenail Brace

The active adhesive brace we use in the office is an innovative treatment for ingrown or involuted toenails. This treatment is suitable almost for everybody including kids and diabetics.  This is an ideal treatment for patients where surgery is not a good alternative, and simply those that wish to avoid surgery. With this simple method,  you can often avoid surgical interventions. The results are visible in a short time and are generally completely painless.

The nail adhesive brace immediately adjusts to individual shapes of nails and therefore helps to relieve patients´discomfort in a majority of cases. The application only takes about 10 minutes, and most people experience no discomfort. Another advantage, unlike surgery,  is that this treatment does not bring any restrictions on your life. This means no days off work, sports or swimming.

Ingrown Toenail Brace

Toenail surgery

If the ingrown is chronic, some patients may require a partial nail avulsion procedure. This procedure removes the curved border of the nail and kills the root in the area. 


This procedure is often painless as the toe is put “to sleep” with a local anesthetic agent. There is usually minimal post-operative discomfort. In fact many patients indicate they immediate feel relief.

The wound heals in about four to six weeks. During this period it is simply dressed with topical antibiotics and gauze dressings. After healing, the nail is normal in appearance, somewhat more narrow than before.

Ingrown Toenail Diagram

How do you prevent ingrown toenails?

  • Cut toenail straight across, and leave it slightly longer then the end of the toe.
  • Avoid tight fitting foot wear.
  • If discomfort develops try soaking the foot in a basin of warm water two or three times a day.
  • If you are a diabetic or have poor circulation the water should never be more than 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • An infected ingrown nail requires prompt professional attention. Contact your chiropodist or podiatrist immediately.

I am a registered chiropodist and foot care specialist and have been helping patients for over 20 years.

Are you uncertain about whether you should choose a chiropodist vs. podiatrist? Chiropodists and podiatrists provide the same care. There are 600 registered chiropodists in Ontario and only 60 podiatrists. The College of Chiropodists of Ontario stopped using the name podiatrist in Ontario in 1993, over 26 years ago — but the name is still used in other provinces in Canada, also USA and UK.

Chiropodists today must complete 7 years of post-secondary education. We do complete case management of foot problems, assessing and treating the entire foot and its complications.

Chiropodist Podiatry Foot Specialist Trina Scarrow Treating Feet

Chiropodist Trina Scarrow, BSc, DCh treating a patient with foot pain — for proper foot functioning and overall well-being.

Let's Connect

Are you ready to get your feet taken care of by an experienced foot care specialist and a professional chiropodist? I have two locations in Guelph and Milton.

I provide full biomechanical exams and gait analysis — I will be able to help address your foot discomfort by foot care treatment, custom orthotics and orthopaedic shoes, surgery, medication, laser or physical therapy.

Chiropodists and podiatrists are the only regulated health professions who have the ability to prescribe and provide custom orthotics as defined in the Regulated Health Profession Act of Ontario.

I want to help get your feet functioning better so you can feel better.