The Painful Ingrown Toenail

An ingrown toenail is a common foot problem, accounting for 20% of all foot-related family doctor visits. Family doctors will often refer their patients to an Advanced Foot Care Nurse or Registered Chiropodist so you have come to the right place! BioPed Foot Care Nurses and Chiropodists understand the discomfort related to an ingrowing toenail and will suggest a treatment option that is right for you.


Determining the cause is paramount to finding a solution. Causes can include:

  • Biomechanical factors, such as a flattened arch or longer second toe which can cause undue pressure on either side of the toenail
  • Sweaty feet, which can increase your likelihood of acquiring an ingrown toenail
  • Problematic shoes, such as those that are too small or those with a tight fitting toe box (pointy toe pumps), which can create unnecessary toe pressures
  • Injury, foot surgery, certain diseases or medications which can all be causative factors
  • Inheritance of this trait
  • Improper nail trimming


Besides addressing the pain, ingrown toenails should be treated to prevent the following complications:

  • Infection* of the soft tissue or bone
  • Sprains, strains or joint damage caused by trying to “protect” the painful toe while walking


*Most ingrown toenails will become infected despite good hygiene. The nail burrowing into the border provides an excellent medium for bacteria to flourish. Unfortunately, if left untreated, infection can spread to the underlying bone and this can require bone surgery. If your ingrown toenail is infected, you should obtain treatment immediately.


Treatment options can include a combination of the following:

  • A simple trim of the painful nail border to offer temporary relief, with or without numbing medicine
  • A more permanent removal of the painful nail border with the use of numbing medicine
  • An ingrown toenail brace**
  • Orthotics to address your biomechanical ailments
  • Education on proper nail trimming, shoe fitting, ingrown toenail care
  • Medication, cream or ointment to address the infection and/or sweating


When your toenail is causing you pain or if it becomes reddened, infected, foul-smelling, has drainage or changes colour, it’s time to call BioPed.

Ingrown Toenail Nurse or Chiropodist Services:

  • Conservative nail spike removal and maintenance
  • Offers education on cause and prevention
  • Nail bracing for ingrown toenails**

In addition to the above, your Chiropodist can also offer:

  • Infection management related to your ingrown toenail
  • More permanent procedures to prevent recurrence
  • Evaluation for orthotics if a biomechanical cause is present

**Available at select locations

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