Ingrown Toenails – What and Why?

What Is An Ingrown Toenail?

An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the nail curves into the flesh of the toe.  At first this may cause a minor irritation.  As the condition progresses, there will likely be pain, redness and swelling of the side of the toe.  With worsening of the condition, the pain increases and there is infected drainage or fluid leaking from the toe. If left untreated the infection, pain, redness and swelling get more intense and it may be hard to wear a shoe and there can be pain even when the bedsheets touch the area.  The earlier that you receive treatment, the quicker you will heal and you are less likely to have complications which may even include bone infection.

Why Did I Get An Ingrown Toenail?

Ingrown toenails can be caused by many factors.  Some people inherit a curved nail and this alone can lead to the problems and symptoms noted above.  These typically occur multiple times at a younger age but may worsen with age if left untreated.  Also, fungal infections of the nail may cause the nail edges to curve with age.

Common causes of ingrown nails and infections are from improper cutting of the nail into the corner.  You often think that you have removed the whole piece causing pain but may leave a small nail spike which the grows into the skin and starts an infection.  This type of problem is typically called “bathroom surgery” and various home tools are often used!  This problem can also occur when receiving a pedicure.  The pedicurist may go to deep and damage the tissues around the nail exposing the area to injury and infection.

Tight shoes can lead to excessive pressure against the nail edge and should be watched carefully.  Lumps and Bumps on the Inside of the Foot and Lumps and Bumps on the Outside of the Foot can cause pressure against the nail as well.

The last category usually involves injury to the nail from something dropping on your toe or someone landing on your toe.  This can push the nail edge into the flesh and cause infection or this may cause damage of the nail root leading to a very curved nail.

People with diabetes and poor circulation are especially prone to complications of infection associated with ingrown toenails and should get immediate attention from a podiatrist.

In all of these cases, there are treatments to treat the infections and minor procedures to cure the problem.