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A case of the dreaded in growing toe nail

14 Sep 2018

A case of the dreaded in growing toe nail

A guest blog by our podiatrist, Stephen Stewart

Most people will have a touch of it at some stage and it is one of the most common problems that clients come to see us about at Carlow Foot Care … The dreaded in growing toenail!


Both painful and irritating, a toenail that begins to grow into the skin (the ‘fulcus’) at the side can be caused by a few factors.

Some people are quite familiar with the notion that tight fitting shoes such as high heels can put pressure on nails and cause problems but did you know that in growing toenails can also be hereditary? Another cause of in growing toenails is repetitive stress. This can often be the case for those that take part in sports regularly such as runners and also dancers. For example, I often treat children who take part in Irish dancing for in growing toenail problems.

Addressing the first point, any podiatrist will tell you that the right footwear is important for keeping your feet healthy. However, I think this is probably a topic for another blog!


In growing toenails can be treated either by ‘conservative’ means or by simple surgical procedure. To treat conservatively, a podiatrist would cut the section of the nail that is growing into the skin. The benefits of this form of treatment are that it is relatively painless and quick. It also provides instant relief. The issues associated are that the nail will grow back. If an in growing toe nail is a persistent problem and a client would like to eradicate the problem completely, then we can offer a simple surgical option. The client is given a local anaesthetic to numb the toe and the podiatrist will cut away the whole section of nail, which is in growing. A chemical called ‘ phenol’ is then applied to the exposed nail bed, which causes a small burn to the skin and prevents further growth of that small section of nail. This treatment has a small recover time and requires the nail to stay dressed for a day or so. It is also not suitable for those under 12 or anyone that is pregnant or has a heart condition.

In growing toenails can be a pain (literally!) but can be treated easily. If you are having trouble with your feet, book in for a consultation with our team by calling 059 913 1667.

Podiatrists, Stephen Stewart and Jennifer O’Neil are the team that make up Carlow Foot Care. They are based at The Granby Clinic, Carlow and Pembroke Dental Bunclody. Find out more about them by visiting www.carlowfootcare.ie.

Photo credit: Julie Johnson via Unsplash

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