An ingrown toenail, also known as onychocryptosis, occurs when a corner or side of the nail grows into the skin of the toe. This may cause redness, swelling, pain, and possible infection. An ingrown nail is most common, but not limited to, the big toe. The nail may become ingrown on either or both sides of the toe. As with any foot concern, those with weakened immune systems, poor circulation, or diabetes are at greater risk for developing an infection.
Ingrown nails may result from trimming the nails too short or too curved. Toenails should grow to the tip of the toe and be cut straight across. Footwear that is particularly constraining to the toes, may also put excessive pressure on the nails and cause them to be ingrown. An injury to the nail itself can cause an ingrown nail.
Left untreated an infection can arise and in severe cases spread to the bone. Home remedies include: soaking, lifting the nail with a small piece of cotton, applying antibiotic ointment, and taking oral pain relievers. When home remedies don’t correct the issue, it’s time to call the Podiatrist. An ingrown nail can be treated in the office as a minimally invasive procedure. The toe will be injected with a numbing agent. The nail will be partially or fully removed, and a chemical mixture may be applied to prevent regrowth. In cases of partial removal, once healed, the skin will grow back up to the new nail border and look like a normal nail. It is imperative to follow any after care instructions given and if prescribed an oral antibiotic, be sure to take all the allotted doses.
If you have an ingrown nail and experience any signs of an infection (fever, chills, nausea, discharge from the area, red streaking from the affected area, or the area is warm to the touch), call our office to schedule an appointment immediately. It’s best to treat the infection right away, rather then let it develop and spread to other areas of the body.