What is an ingrown toenail?
Known to physicians as onychocryptosis, ingrown toenails are a common condition that occur when skin on one or both sides of a nail grows over the edges of the nail, or when the nail itself grows into the skin. This condition can be painful and may become associated with infection of the toe. Some ingrown toenails are chronic, with repeated episodes of pain and infection. Irritation, redness, an uncomfortable sensation of warmth, as well as swelling can result from an ingrown toenail.
What causes ingrown toenails?
Causes of ingrown toenails include:
• Cutting toenails too short or not straight across
• Injury to a toenail
• Repeated trauma from athletics/running
• Having very curved toenails
• Nail infections
• Wearing shoes that crowd the toenails
• Having curved toes due to diseases like arthritis
The most common cause is cutting your toenails incorrectly, causing them to re-grow into the skin. Tight hosiery or shoes with narrow toe boxes only make matters worse. If the skin is red, painful, or swollen on the sides of the nail, an infection may be present, as the ingrown nail is often in a warm, moist, and bacteria-rich environment. When the nail penetrates the skin, it provides a convenient entry for germs that can cause infection. Infection may need to be treated with sterile instruments and antibiotics.
How do you treat and prevent ingrown toenails?
Ingrown toenails can be treated and prevented with a simple regimen:
• Soak the feet in warm salt water
• Dry them thoroughly with a clean towel
• Apply a mild antiseptic solution to the area
• Bandage the toe
If excessive inflammation, swelling, pain, or discharge is present, the toenail may be infected and should be treated by a physician. A podiatrist can trim or remove the infected nail with a minor in-office surgical procedure. Unless, the problem is congenital, the best way to prevent ingrown toenails is to protect the feet from trauma and wear shoes with adequate room for the toes.
Proper toenail cutting goes a long way toward the prevention of ingrown toenails. Using a safety nail clipper, cut the nails straight across, so that the nail corner is visible. Cutting the nail too short invites the nail corner to grow into the skin. Though it may be tempting to cut the nail edge at an angle to relieve the pain, doing so can train the nail to become more and more ingrown.
Courtesy of foot.com