Ingrown toenails occur when the edge of the toenail grows into the skin, causing pain, swelling, and often infection. This common foot problem can affect anyone, but is more likely to occur in people who wear tight shoes, have irregular nail growth, or have a history of toenail injury.
Symptoms of Ingrown Toenails
- Pain and tenderness along the side of the toenail
- Redness and swelling
- Drainage of pus or fluid from the affected area
- Difficulty wearing shoes or walking
Causes of Ingrown Toenails
- Wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow
- Trimming toenails too short or rounding the corners instead of cutting straight across
- Trauma to the toenail, such as stubbing the toe or having the toenail stepped on
- Abnormal nail growth, such as nails that are naturally curved or thick
- Fungal nail infections, which can cause the nail to become misshapen and increase the risk of ingrown toenails
Prevention and Treatment
Ingrown toenails can often be prevented by wearing properly fitting shoes, cutting toenails straight across and avoiding trimming them too short, and avoiding injuring the toenails. If you have a tendency to develop ingrown toenails, you can also try wearing shoes with a wider toe box and avoiding tight hosiery.
If you have an ingrown toenail, it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible to avoid complications. Treatment options include:
- Soaking the foot in warm water to reduce swelling and promote healing
- Applying an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
- Wearing shoes that do not put pressure on the affected toe
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers to relieve pain and inflammation
- In severe cases, a doctor may need to remove the affected portion of the toenail or prescribe antibiotics.
Ingrown toenails can be painful and debilitating, but with proper care and attention, they can often be effectively treated and prevented. If you have symptoms of an ingrown toenail or are experiencing foot pain, it is important to seek medical attention.