An ingrown toenail is a foot condition that develops when the corner of the nail grows down into the skin. It usually affects the big toe. Ingrown toenails often occur when people cut their toenails by tapering the corner of the nails. If the toenail curves into the shape of the toe, it can grow into the skin. Ingrown toenails are common and do not usually pose a health risk to healthy people, however, they can cause infections that can spread to the underlying bone structure of the foot if not treated on time.
What Is An Ingrown Toenail?
Here are some of the causes of ingrown toenails:
Shoes and socks that squeeze the toes and are too tight increase the chance of ingrown toenails.
Cutting toenails too short
Not cutting straight or trimming the edges of the toenail can cause the surrounding skin to fold over the nail. The nail can then push on that skin and pierce it.
Dropping something on the toe, kicking something hard, and other accidents can lead to ingrown toenails.
An unusual curvature
This increases the risk of the nail growing into the soft tissue, causing inflammation and possible infection.
The way a person walks or stands can affect the likelihood of developing ingrown toenails.
Poor foot hygiene or excessive sweating
If the skin on the toes and feet is moist and warm, there is a higher chance of developing an ingrown toenail. Fungal infections can increase the risk.
Ingrown toenails can be hereditary.
Some people are born with larger toenails.
Who is Likely to Have An Ingrown Toenail?
People who are at risk & likely to get ingrown toenail include:
- Severe nerve damage in the leg or foot.
- Poor blood circulation.
- An infection around the nail.
Symptoms of An Ingrown Toenail Infection
Ingrown toenails start with minor symptoms that can escalate. Pay attention to the initial symptoms of this condition to avoid infections and other complications. Symptoms of ingrown toenail infections are:
- Redness or hardening of the skin around the nail
- pain when touched
- pressure under the nail
- Accumulation or exudation of fluid
- Bad smell
- Heat in the area around the nail
- Pus-filled abscess where the nail-pierced the skin
- Excessive growth of new and inflamed tissue at the edges of the nail
- Thick and cracked yellow nails, specifically in fungal infections
Treatment for Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenail should be treated as soon as it is detected. If they are detected early (before infection stars), home remedies can prevent the need for further treatment:
- Soak the feet in lukewarm water 3-4 times a day.
- Keep the feet dry for the rest of the day.
- Consider wearing sandals until the condition improves.
- Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve pain.
- If it does not improve in 2 or 3 days, or if the condition worsens, call the doctor.
- If there is excessive inflammation, swelling, pain, and discharge, the toenail is likely infected and should be treated by a doctor.
- A person may need to take oral antibiotics.
- The doctor may surgically remove part of the nail, part of the underlying nail bed, some of the surrounding soft tissue, and even part of the growth center.
- Surgery is effective in preventing the edge of the nail from growing inwards and cutting the fleshy folds as the toenail grows forward.
- Permanent nail removal may be recommended for children with chronic and recurrent infected ingrown nails.