Why Don’t Antibiotics Fix An Ingrown Toenail?

January 18, 2023

As a clinic specialising in ingrown nail care and treatment, we often see patients who have been battling with an ingrown toenail for many weeks and come to us to finally get rid of the problem. During the appointment, it’s surprisingly common to hear: “but I went to my doctor and got antibiotics – I’m not sure why they didn’t work?” The reason they didn’t work is because antibiotics are fantastic when it comes to treating infections caused by bacteria – but ingrown toenails are unfortunately a mechanical issue caused by the growth of the toenail into the surrounding skin. While an ingrown toenail can become infected, antibiotics would only be effective in treating the infection and would not address the underlying issue of the toenail growing into the skin. Hence, your ingrown toenail continues to persist and cause you pain while putting you at risk of recurring infections, given that the wound never gets a real chance to close and heal. 

How Can You Tell If Your Ingrown Toenail Is Infected?

Some signs that an ingrown toenail may be infected include:
  • Redness and swelling around the edge of the toenail
  • Drainage of pus or other fluid from the area
  • Warmth and tenderness to the touch
  • Pain, especially when pressure is applied to the area
  • A fever, which is a sign of a systemic infection

If My Ingrown Toenail Is Bleeding, Does That Mean It’s Becoming Infected?

No. Ingrown toenails often bleed because a sharp piece of nail has broken the surrounding skin and is now growing into it. But if your toenail is bleeding, it does mean that you’re at risk of developing an infection. This is why it’s important to get your ingrown toenail treated promptly. Before you can get in to see a podiatrist, keep the affected area clean and dry, and avoid picking at or squeezing the nail or surrounding skin, as this can increase the risk of infection. 

What Is The Best Way To Treat My Ingrown Toenail?

The best treatment option for you will depend on the cause of your ingrown toenail, its severity, and whether this is your first time with an ingrown toenail or the nail is a repeat offender.  Here at the Auckland Ingrown Toenail Clinic in Remuera, we treat ingrown nails in one of three ways:
  • Conservative nail care: for first time ingrown toenails, as well as for those where the cause is unlikely to recur again in the future, our podiatrists are able to remove the offending nail spicule using our specialised surgical instruments, simply and easily. We will then provide you with a series of instructions on how to trim your nails in the future to reduce your likelihood of the problem returning. For tips on what not to do for an ingrown toenail, read this article.
  • Partial nail avulsion: for recurring ingrown toenails, our podiatrists specialise in removing the offending nail spicule permanently. This uses a chemical to prevent the problematic edge of the nail from growing back in the future, while giving you instant relief when the nail is removed from the skin.
  • Total nail avulsion: for recurring ingrown toenails that have a secondary problem, like a thickened, damaged or distorted nail, we can perform a total nail avulsion. This involves removing the entire nail and allowing it to grow back naturally, ideally without the previous issues.

Auckland’s Ingrown Toenail Experts

If you have an ingrown toenail and need help, get in touch with our ingrown toenail experts located inside the One Health building on Remuera Road, close to Newmarket. You don’t need to have been taking any antibiotics prior to your appointment. Our podiatrists will assess your toe and present you with a series of options to help you get the best outcome and much-needed pain relief.  You can book your appointment online or by calling us on 09 523 2333