An ingrown toenail refers to a common foot ailment in which the edge of one of your toenails grows into the nearby skin, which can cause various painful symptoms. According to Dr. Kristine Strauss of Charlotte Foot and Ankle Specialists in Charlotte, NC, an ingrown toenail most often impacts the big toe but can happen to any one of your toes.
Ingrown Toenail Symptoms
The common ingrown toenail symptoms include the following –
- Pain & discomfort.
- Redness & Swelling.
- Tender to the touch.
- The ingrown toenail may be visible.
- An infection may develop, which will cause more pronounced pain, redness, swelling, and maybe pus/discharge.
And in more serious instances, the skin around the ingrown toenails may become hardened and overgrown.
Ingrown Toenail Causes
An ingrown toenail, a.k.a. onychocryptosis, can develop for a variety of reasons which includes -
- Improper Nail Trimming – It is important to trim your toenails carefully and straight across as a preventive measure. The corners can be rounded with an emery board but shouldn’t be tapered, and the nails should not be too short.
- Ill-Fitting Footwear - Choosing shoes that are too narrow or without enough room in the toe box can cause pressure that creates an ingrown toenail.
- Trauma – An injury, like stubbing a toe, can cause an ingrown toenail.
- Genetics - Some individuals may have a family or genetic predisposition to develop ingrown toenails.
- Anatomical Factors – The shape of the nail or foot may increase the risk of developing an ingrown toenail.
And, failing to care for your feet – by practicing good foot hygiene - keeping them clean and dry, can contribute to infections caused by an ingrown toenail.
Ingrown Toenail Treatment Options
For mild ingrown toenail cases, a soak in a warm water Epsom salts bath may help. Keep the area clean and dry.
An ingrown toenail, if left untreated, has the potential to develop into a more severe condition that may include an infection under the skin, a skin infection (cellulitis), or perhaps an abscess. However, if there is an infection, Dr. Strauss may prescribe a course of antibiotics or a topical antibiotic.
In some cases, the condition might require surgical intervention. For those cases, there are minor surgical procedures that offer relief.
Seeking Medical Care from a Leading Charlotte, NC Podiatrist
If you experience severe pain or infection, or if your ingrown toenail doesn't improve with conservative home care measures, contact Dr. Strauss or a member of the Charlotte Foot and Ankle Specialists' staff at 704-504-4000 or online.