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Ingrown Toenails During Pregnancy


Podiatrist Georgina Callaghan speaks about mummies-to-be who suffer from toenail problems during pregnancy.


To top off all the changes your body is going through, suddenly your toenail decides to bury itself into the flesh surrounding it, giving you immense pain, often with pus oozing out. This is not the best of things to happen at this special time of your life.


Toenails become ingrown for three reasons:

  1. Improper trimming due to difficulty bending down, often leaving a nail spike at the corner.
  2. Lower leg swelling causing the soft tissue surrounding the nail to swell. This ends up changing the nail shape and pushing the nail under the surrounding nail folds.
  3. Direct trauma such as repetitive pressure on the nail (wearing tight footwear) or something dropping on the toe.

You may develop redness, swelling, fluid discharge and pain at the toe. These are strong indicators that infection is present in your toe.


First, cleanse your toe using a salt or saline bath. Allow the toe to soak for 5 minutes to help reduce localized infection. As long as you are not allergic to antiseptic solution please apply a liquid antiseptic solution such as povidone-iodine. Cover with a plaster or gauze dressing and monitor for 3 days. If it is not steadily improving, you should promptly see your podiatrist.


Most ingrown toenails that come through our clinics are not self-manageable. Even if the expectant mother can reach her feet easily we wouldn’t recommend trying to cut out an ingrown toenail by herself. If an infection becomes severe, it can affect the fetus.


Seeing a Specialist

Consulting a podiatrist is ideal as they are foot specialists. The podiatrist will examine the toe and determine if a nail avulsion (minor surgical procedure) is needed.


Podiatrists will do their best to remove any offending nail spikes without surgery and with minimal pain to the patient. In doing this, the inflammation around the nail will reduce and any infection in the toe can be treated either topically or orally.


As expectant mothers, we fully understand the worries you have regarding substances passing between the mother and baby via placenta (or when breastfeeding). According to medical research, most common local anaesthetic injections and dosages which would be administered to your toe are harmless to you and your baby. The doctor would advise you on oral antibiotics if needed.


If patients catch problems early, then there will be less complications and a reduced risk of infection in the toe.

To prevent recurrence, please trim your toenails straight across and gently file the sharp corners. Always allow the nail to be a little longer rather than shorter, and if there is a handy husband around ask him to help.


Prevention is always the best cure!