Overview

An ingrown toenail results when the toenail grows into the nail fold. It is a common condition experienced by most people at some stage and most often occurs in the big toe, although any toenail can become ingrown.

Causes

The most common causes of ingrown toenails are:

  • Poorly fitting shoes that are too tight or lose, placing extra pressure on the toe.
  • Incorrect nail trimming
  • Picking at the corners of the nails.
  • A genetic disposition causing the nail to grow too thick, wide or curved for their toes.
  • Trauma to the area resulting from stubbing your toe or other injuries.
  • Sweaty feet lead to weak skin that is more easily pierced by the nail.

Symptoms

Ingrown toenails are usually quite painful, with the skin next to the nail becoming tender, swollen or overly firm. A usual sign is when the pain becomes worse when pressure is placed on the toe. If the toe becomes infected, people can experience more severe pain, pus leaking from the area and an overgrowth of skin around the toe.

Diagnosis

A podiatrist can easily diagnose a case of ingrown toenails through a simple physical exam of the foot area.

Treatment

People with diabetes, nerve damage in the leg or foot, poor blood circulation or a nail infection who believe they have an ingrown toenail should consult with their podiatrist immediately. The condition can easily return without responsible foot care. Below is a selection of the methods Dan Everson Podiatry recommends for patients with ingrown toenails:

  • Cutting back a wedge or a small section of nail called a spicule can provide instant pain relief.
  • Consulting with your GP for antibiotics may be required.
  • Returning to see your podiatrist regularly to retrain the nail to grow normally.
  • Thinning down the nail so it is less likely to pierce the skin.
  • Nail surgery called ‘Nail Wedge Resection’ may be necessary in chronic cases. It is a simple procedure with no stitching and minimal post-surgery pain, and has a success rate of 90%.

Prevention

Dan Everson Podiatry recommends the following activities to help prevent ingrown toenails:

  • Don’t cut your toenails too short, as the pressure from your shoes can push a nail to grow into the skin.
  • Ensure your shoes don’t pinch or put uncomfortable pressure on your toes. We can provide advice on the best style of shoes to look for.
  • Soak feet in warm water to soften the nail before cutting.
  • Use only clean, sharp nail trimmers.
  • Avoid picking your toenails.

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