An ingrown toenail is caused by the toenail growing in a curved pattern into the skin, usually at the sides of the nail. The skin may become irritated, creating pain, redness, swelling and warmth in the toe that could lead to an infection. If an ingrown toenail breaks the skin, bacteria may enter and also cause an infection.
Ingrown toenails can be caused by:
- Trauma resulting from an activity such as stubbing your toe, dropping a heavy object on your toe or participating in repeated activities that put repeated pressure on the toes like running or kicking.
- Improper Trimming resulting from cutting the toenails too short or trimming toenails straight across with no rounded corners.
- Improperly Sized Footwear resulting from wearing socks or shoes that are too tight or too short.
- Nail Conditions such as fungal infections or losing a nail due to trauma.
Symptoms of an ingrown toenail include irritation of the skin creating pain, redness, swelling and warmth in the toe.
Home Care – Sometimes initial treatment for ingrown toenails can be safely performed at home, however if it looks like an infection is present, you should see a podiatrist.
- Soak your foot in room-temperature water; adding Epsom’s salt to the water may be beneficial.
- Gently massage the side of the nail fold to help reduce the inflammation.
- Avoid "bathroom surgery” of repeatedly cutting the nail and trying to dig it out on your own; over-the-counter medications are usually ineffective at correcting the underlying problem.
- A minor surgical procedure may be necessary to remove the ingrown toenail.
- A doctor will apply a local anesthetic and remove part of the nail’s side border.
- Most people experience very little pain after surgery and will be prescribed an oral antibiotic.