Ingrown toenails (onychocryptosis) commonly present in the second decade of life. Ingrown nails may be caused by a number of factors including tight footwear, trauma, an abnormal nail shape, incorrect nail cutting technique and rubbing from adjacent toes. Nails that might be ingrown commonly appear red and swollen, painful, they may be infected and discharge pus, and may cause new tissue to form over the area that is irritated.


There are a number of different ways to treat ingrown nails, and it is important you see your podiatrist to have the nail assessed. Not all ingrown nails will require surgery, and may easily be reduced by removing the cause of the irritation.


The podiatrists at Fitzroy Foot and Ankle Clinic can provide excellent advice on the proper management of ingrown toenails.

Nail Surgery

The information below summarises the procedure for removing an ingrown toenail. It is important to remember not all ingrown toenails will require nail surgery.


Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risk. It is important that you do not rely on this information and you see your podiatrist for advice.


There are a variety of different types of ingrown toenail surgery, but the most common is a procedure called a Partial Nail Avulsion. For this procedure the toe is numbed with a local anaesthtic, and the side of nail causing the irritation is removed. The cells that grow the nail are then killed with a chemical to prevent the nail from regrowing. The image below describes this procedure.

The nail plate is separated from the nail bed

The nail plate is cut with scissors

The section of nail causing the irritation is removed

Phenol (80%) is applied to kill the cells that grow the nail

* Image adapted from Menz H.B. Foot Problems in Older People: Assessment and Management. Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, 2008

Fitzroy Foot and Ankle Clinic - Podiatrists servicing Carlton, Clifton Hill, Collingwood and Northcote

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Fitzroy Foot and Ankle Clinic

460 Brunswick St, Fitzroy North, 3068

Ph: (03) 9485 8000

Fax: (03) 9485 8011