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Ingrown Toenail

An ingrown toenail is a common nail condition seen by the podiatrist. An ingrown toenail occurs when the skin on one or both sides of a nail grows over the edges of the nail, or when the nail itself grows into the skin. Any of your toenails can become ingrown, but the big toe is usually the victim.

Ingrown Toenail Symptoms

Ingrown toenails start out as minor discomfort and pressure in the nail fold. As the nail spike penetrates the skin in the nail fold, it becomes more painful. Redness, pain, and swelling at the corner of the nail may result and infection may start with or without pus been seen in the area. After a time the hyper-granulation tissue will form. This tissue is usually very vascular, red and painful.

Why do I get ingrown toenail?

Most ingrown toenails are caused by:

  • Improperly trimming of the toenail - if the nail is cut incorrectly leaving a spike down the side, then it will grow in. Some people also cut the corners of the nail too far down the sides causing the flesh to grow over the nail.

  • Heredity – the nail is just too large for the toe.

  • Pressure from the tight footwear.

  • Repeated trauma to the feet from normal activities or trauma to the toe from sporting activities or dropping a heavy object on it.

What can I do myself for ingrown toenail?

Prevention is better than cure. Properly fitting footwear (comfortable shoes with adequate room for the toes) and the proper nail cut (cutting the nails straight across) is crucial. If the nails are curved, instead of flat, it maybe difficult to do cut them straight across yourself.

DON’T: Trying to dig down the sides of toe yourself, which may worsen the condition.

Careful cutting away of the offending nail piece will relieve the ingrown nail but this is not easy to do and not always possible. The myth of cutting a V in the nail will not prevent or treat ingrown toenails.

DO: If you suspect an infection due to an ingrown toenail, immerse the foot in a warm salt water soak, then apply antiseptic and bandage the area.It is best to have your toenail evaluated and treated by your podiatrist as soon as possible.

What can a podiatrist do for ingrown toenail?

The initial treatment of an ingrown toenail is to skillfully remove the nail spike that is causing the ingrown toenail, often with very little discomfort. If it is too painful, then a local anesthetic can be used. A topical or oral medication may be necessary to treat the infection. Once the nail spike is out, it usually heals well. If the nail spike is not properly removed, then it will not heal and the infection will persist.

If the ingrown toenail is severe, recurring and conservative treatment does not work, then a minor surgical procedure may be indicated. The procedure is a relatively simple and very successful management option for persistent, chronic ingrown toenail. Click here to learn more about ingrown toenail surgery.

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