Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails

What are ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails are simply nails that grow back into the flesh of the toe, causing pain and discomfort. They often become infected, though there can be pain without infection or infection without pain. Symptoms of ingrown toenails include pain along the margin of the nail, sensitivity to any pressure at the affected area and any sign of infection, such as pus or bleeding.

How are they caused?

Ingrown toenails occur when the nail grows abnormally into the skin of the toe. This can be caused by overly tight socks or shoes, trimming the toenail incorrectly, or by a deformity in the nail itself.

How can they be treated?

Your doctor or chiropodist can trim a small sliver from the nail to relieve pressure and possibly remove some of any calloused skin than may have built up around the nail. Any infection will also have to be drained and treated. If the nail repeatedly grows in, it may need to be treated on a regular basis. In some cases, surgery may be required to correct a chronic ingrown toenail.

If an ingrown toenail is not treated it can lead to a number of complications. Infection could spread beyond the nail area and involve the toe or even extend into the foot. This could have important implications if the person was a diabetic or suffered from circulatory problems in the feet. The nail could have to be permanently removed if any infection spread to the root of the nail. Even if no infection is present, the toe can become permanently deformed. Anyone with an infected ingrown toenail should attend their doctor or chiropodist and not ignore the condition.

No one with an infected ingrown toenail should ignore the condition.

What should I do to prevent ingrown toenails?

Toenails should always be cut straight across, slightly beyond the end of the toe itself. Cutting toenails incorrectly is one of the main causes of ingrown toenails. It is also best to avoid shoes and socks that are too tight, as poorly fitting footwear can cause a range of foot maladies, such as bunions and corns as well as ingrown toenails.

If you have an ingrown toenail, soaking it in warm water a number of times a day will keep the area clean and soften the nail, thereby easing the pain somewhat. If the toenail is infected it should be treated by a doctor or chiropodist as soon as possible.

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