An ingrown toenail happens when the edges or corners of the nail grow into the skin next to the nail and break the skin.
Ingrown toenails are a common condition in which the corner or side of a toenail grows into the soft flesh.
It is a common condition, and it can be painful, causing swelling, redness, and sometimes infection.
It usually affects the big toe, either on one or both sides of the toe.
If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow to your feet, you're at greater risk of complications of ingrown toenails.
Ingrown toenail symptoms include:
1. Pain and tenderness in your toe along one or both sides of the nail;
2. Redness around your toenail;
3. Swelling of your toe around the nail;
4. Infection of the tissue around your toenail.
Here are some of the causes of ingrown toenails:
Shoes and socks that crowd the toes and toenails increase the chance of an ingrown toenail.
Shoes can be too tight because they are too short, too narrow at the end, or too flat at the end.
Tight fitting socks, tights, or stockings may cause ingrown toenails.
Cutting the toenails too short:
Not cutting straight across or cutting the edges of the toenail can encourage the surrounding skin to fold over the nail.
The nail can then push into that skin and pierce it.
Dropping something on the toe, kicking something hard, and other accidents can lead to ingrown toenails.
An unusual curvature:
This increases the risk that the toenail will grow into the soft tissue, causing inflammation and possible infection.
How a person walks or stands can affect the likelihood of developing ingrown toenails.
Poor foot hygiene or excessive sweating:
If the skin on the toes and feet is moist and warm, there is a higher chance of developing an ingrown toenail.
A fungal infection can increase the risk.
ingrown toenails can run in families.
Some people are born with larger toenails.
Left untreated or undetected, an ingrown toenail can infect the underlying bone and lead to a serious bone infection.
Complications can be especially severe if you have diabetes, which can cause poor blood flow and damage nerves in your feet.
So a minor foot injury a cut, scrape, corn, callus or ingrown toenail may not heal properly and become infected.
A difficult to heal open sore (foot ulcer) may require surgery to prevent the decay and death of tissue (gangrene).
Gangrene results from an interruption in blood flow to an area of your body.
To help prevent an ingrown toenail
1. Trim your toenails straight across.
Don't curve your nails to match the shape of the front of your toe.
If you have your toenails done at a salon, be sure to tell your pedicurist to trim your nails straight across.
If you have a condition that causes poor blood flow to your feet and you can't trim your nails, see a podiatrist regularly to have your nails trimmed.
2. Keep toenails at a moderate length.
Trim toenails so they're even with the tips of your toes.
If you trim your toenails too short, the pressure from your shoes on your toes may direct a nail to grow into the tissue.
3. Wear shoes that fit properly.
Shoes that place too much pressure on your toes or pinch them may cause a nail to grow into surrounding tissue.
If you have nerve damage to your feet, you may not be able to sense if your shoes fit too tightly.
Take care to buy and wear properly fitted shoes, preferably from a shoe store specializing in fitting shoes for people with foot problems.
4. Wear protective footwear.
If your work puts you at risk of injuring your toes, wear protective footwear, such as steel toed shoes.
5. Check your feet.
If you have diabetes, check your feet daily for signs of ingrown toenails or other foot problems.
6. Maintain hygiene and dryness, because an ingrown toenail is less likely if the feet are clean and dry.