Ingrown Toenails: How to Identify an Ingrown Toenail and Where to Seek Help

By Adam Simpson
Adam Simpson
Adam Simpson
July 20, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016

An ingrown toenail, though not medically serious, can cause considerable discomfort, especially for those who rely on their feet a great deal, such as runners or those whose work incorporates a great deal of standing up.

Thankfully, ingrown toenails are relatively easy to cure, by attending your local Urgent Care clinic. Here is a helpful guide to identifying an ingrown toenail, working out what has caused it, and taking the right steps to cure the problem for good.

Causes of an ingrown toenail

There are a number of reasons why you might develop an ingrown toenail. Common causes include:

  • Extra pressure on the toe, for example, from ill-fitting shoes.

  • Trimming your toenails too short.

  • Picking at the nail.

  • Sudden impact, such as stubbing your toe on a hard surface.

Ingrown toenails: Identification

It’s fairly easy to identify an ingrown toenail. Here are the following signs to look out for:

  • Redness and swelling around the nail.

  • Tenderness when you touch it.

  • Evidence that the nail is growing underneath the skin (you may be able to see the skin over the top of the nail, rather than lying alongside it).

  • Any sign of infection, such as pus or discharge of any kind.

How to treat your ingrown toenail

Whilst it is possible to treat an ingrown toenail at home, many people prefer to opt for the help of a professional at an Urgent Care clinic.

A professional medical specialist will examine your nail thoroughly, and they are likely to ask you a few questions about your general health. Ingrown toenails are considered relatively serious medical conditions for those suffering from diabetes, or those who have poor circulation, and your doctor will want to establish whether or not you fall into this category.

If the problem is not too severe, your doctor will be able to recommend an appropriate course of treatment to alleviate the symptoms. However, if the ingrown toenail is more severe, they may recommend minor surgery to remove part of the nail.

Ingrown toenail surgery

Many Urgent Care clinics will offer ingrown toenail surgery on site, rather than referring you to a hospital. This medical procedure is considered minor and is unlikely to cause you any significant pain. A numbing injection will be administered to the area and then the damaged section of nail will be removed.

This section of toenail will grow back in around 3-4 months. If your medical professional considers that you are suffering from infection, it’s likely that you’ll be prescribed a course of antibiotics as well.


It’s really important, after you’ve received treatment for your ingrown toenail, to keep the affected area as clean as possible, to reduce the risk of infection. Ensure that the shoes you are wearing are comfortable, well-fitting and not too tight around the toe and trim your nail using the recommended method; straight across the top of the nail, rather than down the sides.

By following these simple guidelines, it’s likely that your toe will be pain-free in a mere matter of weeks, leaving you free to get back to normal. 

Adam Simpson