Ingrown Toenail

An ingrown toenail happens when a portion of the toenail curves into the flesh of the toe. It then imbeds itself in the soft tissue. It can occur on any of the toes. However, it usually occurs on one of the big toes.

  • Causes

    Trauma and improper nail care makes the nail curve and overgrow into the flesh of the toe.

  • Definition

    An ingrown toenail happens when a portion of the toenail curves into the flesh of the toe. It then imbeds itself in the soft tissue. It can occur on any of the toes. However, it usually occurs on one of the big toes.

    Ingrown Toenail
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  • Diagnosis


    In almost all cases, you or your doctor can diagnose an ingrown toenail based on the location and the symptoms.

    In rare cases, you may need an
    x-ray
    . For example, if your doctor suspects an infection may have spread to the toe bone.

  • Prevention

    To help prevent ingrown toenails:

    • Cut your toenails straight across and avoid rounding the edges. The corner of the nail should be visible above the skin of your toe.
    • Wear shoes and socks that fit properly and are not too tight.
    • Keep your feet clean.
    • Keep your feet dry by wearing cotton socks and/or using foot powder.

  • Risk Factors

    The main risk factor that increases your chances of having ingrown toenails is having family members with ingrown toenails.

    Other risk factors include:

    • Improper cutting or trimming of the toenail
    • Wearing footwear that is too tight
    • Repeated trauma to the toes, often due to sports activities
    • Diabetes
    • Fungal infections of the toenails
    • Turner syndrome
    • Arthritis
    • Gout

  • Symptoms

    Ingrown toenails often do not cause symptoms at first. Eventually, the following symptoms may develop:

    • Pain—sometimes severe
    • Redness
    • Swelling
    • Warmth
    • Pus draining from the area

  • Treatment

    You may be able to treat an ingrown toenail yourself if you catch it early. If the condition gets worse or does not improve, you will need to seek medical care. If you have diabetes, you must seek medical attention for any infection or wound involving your feet or toes.