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Ingrown Toenails: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

  • Published: 2009-02-28 (Revised/Updated 2017-06-25) : Author: Juliet Cohen
  • Synopsis: Ingrown toenails can be caused by cutting toenails improperly by wearing shoes that fit poorly or by injuring the nail bed.

Main Document

"If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor circulation to your feet, you're at greater risk of complications from an ingrown toenail."

Onychocryptosis, known as ingrown nails or ingrowing nails, is a form of nail disease. It is a painful condition in which the nail grows or cuts into one or both sides of the nail bed.

Ingrown nails can occur in both fingernails and toenails, however they occur most commonly with toenails.

An ingrown toenail is a painful condition of the toe. The area is usually red and may be warm, if not treated, ingrown toenails can be prone to infection.

With bacterial invasion, the nail margin becomes red and swollen often demonstrating drainage or pus. Some ingrown toenails are chronic, with repeated episodes of pain and infection.

Ingrown toenails can be caused by cutting toenails improperly, by wearing shoes that fit poorly or by injuring the nail bed. While many things can cause ingrown toenails, the major causes are shoes that don't fit well and improperly trimmed nails.

This condition is usually very painful and can be associated with infection of the toe. Ingrown toenails also can run in the family.

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. When the toenail grows into the surrounding tissue, a painful toe is the result. Ingrown nails may produce no symptoms at first but eventually may become painful, especially when pressure is applied to the ingrown area. The great toe is usually affected, but any toenail can become ingrown. In people who have diabetes or poor circulation this relatively minor problem can be become quite severe.

Ingrown nails may develop for many reasons. Some cases are congenital the nail is just too large for the toe.

Ingrown toenails are common in adults but uncommon in children and infants. Any toenail can become ingrown, but the condition is usually found in the big toe.

If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor circulation to your feet, you're at greater risk of complications from an ingrown toenail. Soaking the foot in warm salty water may relieve the pain temporarily. The toe is not necessarily infected, but this can develop after the nail penetrate the skin to become ingrown.

The infection can spread, making the toe red and inflamed (paronychia). This is different from nail fungus. A collection of pus may also develop. The condition usually affects your big toe. If left untreated, the inflammation can spread to the rest of your toe and the area becomes infected. It may smell unpleasant. Sometimes initial treatment for ingrown toenails can be safely performed at home.

Causes of Ingrown toenails

Symptoms of Ingrown Toenails

Treatment of Ingrown Toenails

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