Overview of Ingrown Toenail
Picture of In grown Nail
This article provides an
overview on the symptoms and causes of ingrown toenails as well as the reasons
why prevention and treatment are important to avoid an ingrown toenail
All About the Toenail
The toenail forms under the skin at the edge of the nail nearest the body.
As more toenail forms, it is pushed along the upper surface of the toe to the
end of the toe. In humans, the toenail serves to protect the top of the toe
Sometimes, these toenails
have a mind of their own and grow in a way that causes irritation to the skin.
Physicians know this condition as onychocryptosis. For the layman, we know it
as an ingrown toe nail. By either name, the result is the same: the sides, or
corners, of the nail curl down and dig into the skin, causing swelling, pain
What an Ingrown Toenail Looks Like
An ingrown toenail is a
painful condition that starts off as hard, swollen and tender. If you let them
go without treatment, an ingrown toenail infection turns the area red, sore,
and pus-laden. Your skin may also start to grow over the ingrown toe nail.
Causes of an Ingrown Toenail
They tend to be more common
in adults than in children and infants. While any of your toenails can become
ingrown, it is usually your biggest and smallest toes.
While many things can cause
ingrown toenails, the primary reason is dependent on the shape of the toenail.
If nails are peeled off at the edge or improperly trimmed down at the corners,
the result is an ingrown toe nail. Another factor is shoes that do not fit
well. When shoes are too tight press, the sides of the nail push in and curl
into the skin. If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor
circulation in your feet, you are at greater risk of complications from an
Whatever the cause, it is
important to focus on prevention because you do not want to have the agony of
an ingrown toenail infection.
Treatments that Avoid an Ingrown Toenail Infection
Often, you can take care of
ingrown toenails on your own. If simple treatment is not successful and the
pain is severe or spreads, your doctor or podiatrist can help you alleviate the
discomfort. This could involve minor surgery to remove the sides of the nail,
leaving a narrow and odd-looking nail.
Complications of Ingrown
If left untreated, an ingrown toenail
fungus infection can develop with the possibility of abscesses that would have
to be surgically removed. Left untreated or undetected, an ingrown toe nail
can even infect the underlying bone, leading to a serious bone infection.
In rare cases, an ingrown toe
nail can result in a foot ulcer, which could also require surgery. At their
worst, these foot ulcers could even turn gangrenous, leading to amputation.