What Are Ingrown Toe Nails?

Ingrown toenails occur when the toenail grows into the flesh rather than over it. The condition often affects the big toe.


The Causes

Ingrown toenails can develop for many reasons.

The most common cause is cutting your toenails incorrectly, causing them to re-grow into the skin. Tight hosiery or shoes with narrow toe boxes will make matters worse.

In some cases the condition is congenital, such as toenails that simply are too large. People who have curling toes, either from genetics or diseases like arthritis, are also prone to ingrown toenails. Often, trauma, like stubbing a toe or having a toe stepped on, can cause a piece of the nail to be jammed into the skin. Repeated trauma, such as the pounding to which runners typically subject their feet, can also cause ingrown nails.

Treatment and Prevention at Foot Solutions

Prevention of ingrown toenails is the key. Make sure to cut your nails to the correct length. The trained professionals in your local Foot Solutions store will be delighted to advise you how to do this properly. They can also help by fitting a shoe that does not create any further pressure on the inflamed area.

Ingrown toenails should be treated as soon as it is recognised. In many cases, people with uninfected ingrown toenails can obtain relief with the following steps:

  • Soak the feet in warm salt water
  • Dry them thoroughly with a clean towel
  • Apply a mild antiseptic solution to the area
  • Bandage the toe.

If the skin is red, painful or swollen on the sides of the nail, an infection may be present. This occurs because the ingrown nail is often in a warm, moist and bacteria-rich environment. When the nail penetrates the skin, it provides a convenient entry for germs that can cause infection. Untreated, the nail can go under the skin, causing a more severe infection. In either case, the infection needs to be cured with sterile instruments and antibiotics.