Ingrown Toenail


Ingrown toenail or onychocryptosis, a common disorder of the toe where the toe nail grows into the surrounding nail skin tissue.  In rare cases the skin may actually grow over the toe nail, but most in most cases the toe nail grows into one or both sides the toe.  This condition is often painful and can cause swelling and infections if left untreated.

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Symptoms

Ingrown toe nail symptoms can include:

  • Pain along the edges of the toes, that can worsen with tight footwear.
  • Sensitive to any kind of pressure.
  • Redness or swelling in the skin at the margins of the toenail.
  • Excruciating pain if toe is bumped or if the nail actually punctures the skin of the toe.
  • Infection, that can drain pus or discharge watery fluid colored with blood.

Causes

One of the main contributing factors to ingrown toe nails is improper foot wear.  Foot wear that is to tight, narrow or short can cause the toes to crowd and bunch allowing the nail to curl.  Once the nail curls or distorts, even after the shoes are off it can grow into the skin.  Improper trimming or nail care can cause the nail to grow in the wrong direction.  The toe nail should be cut straight across allowing for the nail to grow straight out where it can be easily trimmed.  Avoid trimming the sides of the nail or rounding the the toe nail.  Injury to the toe or toe nail that damages the tissue enough to cause swelling or presses the nail  can cause the nail to grow awkwardly and into the skin.


Treatments


Ingrown toenails can usually be treated at home, but more severe cases may require medical treatment.  Often you can trim a ‘V’ shaped notch in the center of the toe nail allowing it to grow inward  and after a few days it can relieve pressure on the skin on the  edges of the toe nail. A warm Epsom salt bath for the  ingrown toe can also be beneficial.  If the ingrown nail has punctured the skin and become infected a physician or podiatrist can surgically remove the nail in office.


Proper care will go along way in preventing ingrown toenails.   Shoes that don’t crowd the toes and  correct toenail trimming  can prevent ingrown toenails.  Toenails should be cut straight across and you should be able to see the corners of the toe nail.  Cut the nails to short and you risk the corners growing into the skin.