Ingrown toenails occur when the edge of a toenail grows into the skin surrounding it, causing pain, discomfort and infection. This can happen on any toe, but it is most common on the big toe.
Causes of Ingrown Toenails
- Trimming toenails too short, rounding the edges or digging into the sides of the nails can cause the nail to grow into the skin.
- Shoes that are too tight or narrow can put pressure on the toes, causing ingrown toenails.
- Dropping something heavy on your toe or stubbing your toe can cause this ailment.
- Genetically, some people are more prone to ingrown toenails due to the shape of their nails or the structure of their toes.
Symptoms of ingrown toenails can include pain, tenderness, redness, swelling and infection. In severe cases, the skin around the ingrown toenail may become ulcerated or exude pus.
Ways to Manage Ingrown Toenails
- Soaking your foot in warm water for 15-20 minutes, several times a day can help reduce the swelling and pain associated with ingrown toenails.
- Wearing comfortable, properly fitting shoes can help reduce pressure on your toes and prevent further irritation of the ingrown toenail.
- Trimming your toenails straight across, without rounding the edges also helps. Do not cut them too short and avoid digging into the sides of the nails.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help reduce the pain and swelling associated with this foot condition.
- Applying topical ointments, such as antibiotic ointments or creams containing eucalyptus or menthol, can help reduce pain and prevent infection.
- If your ingrown toenail is causing significant pain, swelling or infection, you may need a podiatrist. Partial or full toenail removal may be necessary.
Proper foot hygiene, proper nail trimming and wearing comfortable shoes can help prevent ingrown toenails. However, if you do suffer from ingrown toenails, it is important to see a toenail doctor if the symptoms are severe or if there are signs of infection.