What are Ingrown Toenails?
A true ingrowing toenail, or onychocryptosis, is the actual penetration of the flesh by a sliver of nail. This should not be confused with other painful nail conditions such as involuted nails, or the presence of small corns, callus or debris down the nail sulci (the grooves either side of the nail plate) or under the nail plate itself.
An ingrown toenail occurs when the toenail of one of the toes, usually the big toe, starts to grow into the skin at its side resulting in swelling, inflammation and in some cases, severe infection.
What Causes Ingrown Toenails?
- Over Cutting is the most common cause of ingrown toenails. When trimming your nails, cut them straight across, but not too short. Cutting nails at the corner or along the sides can lead to ingrown toenails.
- Pressure on the toes Congenital malalignment of the digit; increased pressure from external sources such as trauma; poorly fitted shoes; and poor posture and gait, can all result in overcurvature of the nail plate, leading to ingrown toenails
Sweating – hyperhidrosis (sweating) commonly occurs in athletic adolescents and can contribute to ingrown toenails.
- Paronychia – an acute inflammation of the nail fold, frequently results from minor trauma, such as an accidental break in the skin, a splinter in the distal edge of the nail, a thorn in the lateral groove, a hang nail, or excessive nail biting leading to infection of the surrounding soft tissues.
- Nail trauma – injuries of the nail unit include simple or complex lacerations, crush injuries, avulsions, terminal phalanx fractures, and partial or complete hematomas. Preservation of nail structure and function is the most important consideration when managing injuries to the nail complex.
- Good Foot Care If your ingrown toenail is detected in the very early stages, there is no need to visit us – you can correct it yourself by trimming the toenail and wearing comfortable socks and shoes to cushion your feet from pressure for a while. However, if ignored, you can end up with severe pain. You should visit a podiatrist as soon as you feel an inflammation or swelling in your toe.
- Antibiotics We may recommend a course of antibiotics to deal with the pus and infection or if the ingrown toenail has swelled to a great degree, we may perform an local procedure to drain and clean out your toenail.
- Surgery – You may need to have your nail removed. Surgery can be completed under local anaesthetic. Learn more.