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Think Your Ingrown Toenails Are Worse In Winter? You’re Probably Right. Here’s Why

The beauty of summer is that it allows us to get some relief from our ingrown toenails by wearing open-toed sandals and walk around with bare feet, which can also delay the onset of painful symptoms in the first place. In winter and the chilly NZ spring-time? Not so much. Our ingrown toenails can become worse much faster – and for a number of reasons. Today, our podiatry team have shared why your ingrown toenails tend to feel worse faster in the cooler months, what you can be doing to take care of your feet, and our #1 solution for taking care of ingrown toenails for good.


Why the cooler months aggravate our ingrown toenails

Unfortunately, it’s our own actions that tend to leave our nails feeling worse in these months. During winter, many people opt for thicker and warmer, or even dual-layered, socks which can greatly reduce the amount of room we have at the front of our shoes. This cramps our toes, pushing our skin and nails into one another, and makes it easier for the nail to pierce the skin. 


Much like the above, repeatedly wearing enclosed shoes, particularly when they’re tight or narrow, can also produce the same result. As tight, snug-fitting shoes are a common trait of many of our favourite winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and soccer, this leaves us vulnerable to getting that pain, redness, swelling – and sometimes – infection. Activities that have you repeatedly kicking the ball like soccer, or quickly stopping and starting as you push up off the ground can also push into the ingrown nail and aggravate it, causing your symptoms to spring up and worsen.


Tips for taking care of your ingrown nails and feet

To help care for your ingrown nails over the cooler months, especially when trying to prevent them from recurring, we recommend:


  • Remembering that shoes have width sizing, not just length sizing. Opt for shoes with a wider toe box that will accommodate thicker socks and won’t push your toenail and surrounding skin into one another
  • Keeping your nails trimmed, and trimming them straight across using proper nail tools. The shorter the nail, the more space there is in the shoe, and the lesser the chance of irritating the toenails. Using proper nail-cutting tools will help reduce the likelihood of leaving little nail spicules behind that can turn into ingrown toenails
  • Keeping your feet clean and clearing any build-up from down the sides of your toenails. You already know that dirty feet can encourage the build-up of bacteria and other germs that can irritate the nails – and lead to an infection if an ingrown toenail develops. Regularly clearing any build-ups of dead skin or dirt down the sides of (and beneath) the nails will also help reduce some of pressure which may contribute to ingrown toenails, while helping keep your feet clean
  • Airing your toes. When you get home, give your toes some air and some space. This will help relieve some pressure, while encouraging your feet to dry and discouraging any odour or harmful skin breakdown which may cause damage make you vulnerable to infection
  • Getting your ingrown toenail treated early, and doing it right. There’s a certain way to take your ingrown toenail from 0 to 100 in quick speed – and that’s digging down the side of the nail yourself to try to remove your ingrown toenail. Often, the offending and penetrating nail spicule is small, deep and very difficult to see and feel (without the right equipment!). Digging at it often just makes it worse, and quickly amps up your painful symptoms. Getting it treated by a skilled podiatrist while it’s still a mild ache and not a sharp, shooting pain, will help you have the least pain and the best results


Permanent relief from ingrown toenails

Unfortunately, ingrown toenails can and do tend to come back – depending on what’s causing them. You can read up on all the causes and symptoms of ingrown toenails here. Here at the Auckland Ingrown Toenail Clinic, as part of Perform Podiatry, we offer a permanent solution to ingrown toenails that not only relieves your current symptoms, but also prevents it from coming back – or we’ll redo the procedure free of charge.


The procedure is called a partial nail avulsion, and it provides a professional, safe and effective solution to frustrating and painful ingrown toenails. It is one of the most common procedures carried out in our clinic, and works to remove the small part of the toenail edge that is piercing the skin and causing your painful symptoms. We see fantastic results from this procedure and have great satisfaction with it, especially as many patients struggle with recurring ingrown toenails for years first.


We love that:

  • The procedure is done simply in-clinic
  • The total appointment time typically doesn’t exceed 60 minutes (with the procedure time typically around 20 minutes)
  • The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic so is pain-free
  • You do not need to take any additional time off work/school following the procedure and can go home immediately
  • You do not need any special boots or braces while the toe heals
  • The procedure causes very little post-procedure discomfort, however, painkillers can be taken should discomfort arise


At the end of the procedure, we dress your toe, provide you with a take-home dressing pack and re-dressing instructions, and continue to monitor your progress to ensure the toe is healing well. You can read more about this procedure and if it’s right for you here


Time to say goodbye to recurring ingrown toenails once and for all?

Trust your foot and nail care to Auckland’s leading podiatry team, situated at the One Health Building on Remuera Road. Book your appointment by calling 09 523 2333 or book online.


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About the author

Hanan Kane