An ingrown toenail is a toenail that has grown into the skin instead of over it. This usually happens to the big toe, but it can also happen to other toes. An ingrown toenail can get infected. It may be painful, red, and swollen, and it may drain pus. See an illustration of an ingrown toenail....
It occurs when a nail grows into the flesh at the side of the nail. This usually affects the toes, particularly the big toe. People with curved or thick nails are most likely to develop a problem with ingrown nails, although ingrown nails can affect anyone.
Anyone can get an ingrown toenail, but adults get them more than children do. People who have curved or thick nails are more likely to get an ingrown toenail. This is more common in older adults.
An ingrown toenail can have a number of different causes. Cutting your toenail too short or rounding the edge of the nail can cause it to grow into the skin. Wearing shoes or socks that don’t fit well can also cause an ingrown toenail. If your shoes are too tight, they might press the nail into the toe and cause it to grow into the skin.
You can get an ingrown toenail if you hurt your toe, such as stubbing it. This can cause the nail to grow inward. Repeating an activity that injuries the nail, such as kicking a soccer ball, can also cause an ingrown nail.
Ingrown toenails result when the nail grows into the flesh of your toe, often the big toe. Common causes include:
- Wearing shoes that crowd your toenails
- Cutting your toenails too short or not straight across
- Injury to your toenail
- Unusually curved toenails
- Thickening of your toenails
An ingrown toenail can result from curved toenails, poorly fitting shoes, toenails that are trimmed improperly, or a toe injury. The skin around the toenail may become red and infected. The great toe is usually affected, but any toenail can become ingrown.
The condition may become serious in people with diabetes.
Signs and symptoms of an ingrown toenail include:
*Pain and tenderness in your toe along one or both sides of the nail
*Redness around your toenail
*Swelling of your toe around the nail
*Infection of the tissue around your toenail
Anyone can develop an ingrown toenail. But you may be more prone to ingrown toenails if you have toenails that curve down.
Ingrown toenails are also more common in older adults, because nails tend to thicken with age. This thickening or change of the curvature of your nails can cause ingrown toenails.
Left untreated or undetected, an ingrown toenail can infect the underlying bone and lead to a serious bone infection.
Complications can be especially severe if you have diabetes because the circulation and nerve supply to your feet can be impaired. Therefore, any relatively minor injury to your foot — cut, scrape, corn, callus or ingrown toenail — can lead to a more serious complication. In rare cases, an ingrown toenail can result in a difficult-to-heal open sore (foot ulcer), which could eventually require surgery. Foot ulcers left untreated may become infected and eventually even gangrenous. Rarely, amputation is the only treatment option.
Exams and Tests:
A doctor’s examination of the foot is sufficient to diagnose an ingrown toenail.
To treat an ingrown nail at home:
- Soak the foot in warm water.
- Use a nail file to separate the nail from the inflamed skin.
- Place a small piece of cotton under the nail. Wet the cotton with water or antiseptic.
Repeat those steps, several times a day if necessary, until the nail begins to grow out and the pain goes away. Also, trim the toenail and apply over-the-counter antibiotics. If this does not work and the ingrown nail gets worse, see a foot specialist (podiatrist) or skin specialist (dermatologist).
If steps you take at home don’t help, your doctor can treat an ingrown toenail by trimming or removing the ingrown portion of your nail to help relieve pain. Before this procedure, your doctor numbs your toe by injecting it with an anesthetic. After the procedure, you may need to rest your foot and soak it in warm water. Your doctor may also recommend using topical or oral antibiotics for ingrown toenail treatment, especially if the toe is infected or at risk of becoming infected.
For a recurrent ingrown toenail, your primary doctor or foot doctor may suggest removing a portion of your toenail along with the underlying tissue (nail bed) to prevent that part of your nail from growing back. This procedure can be done with a chemical, a laser or other methods.
Treatment will generally control the infection and relieve pain. However, the condition is likely to return if measures to prevent it are not taken. Good foot care is important to prevent recurrence.
To prevent an ingrown toenail:
- Wear shoes that fit properly.
- Trim toenails straight across the top and not too short.
- Keep the feet clean and dry.
- People with diabetes should have routine foot exams and nail care.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.