In-grown toenails are quite common, especially among teenagers. It commonly affects the big toes only. It is usually the lateral aspect of the toe (i.e the side of the toe which touches the second toe) but it can affect the other side or even both sides. In the early stages, conservative measures may be successful in treating the in-grown toenail such as cleaning, soaking in salt baths and elevation of the nail by a small amount of cotton wool to allow it to grow out. The redness and pain of an in-grown toe nail is due to inflammation which is caused because a foreign body (the nail) is digging into the skin. This can then become secondarily infected. Antibiotics can be useful in treating the infection but rarely cures the problem.
In late stages, surgery may become necessary. A wedge resection is done which excises the in-grown section of the nail and the germinal matrix, the soft tissue from which the nail grows. Recurrence of the in-grown toenail after surgery has been recorded but is rare.
A dressing is placed at the time of surgery and is left untouched for 10 days. After this time, return to normal activity. Return to sports after 3 or 4 weeks.