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Ingrown Toenails - Treatment, Causes And Home Remedies To Cure Ingrown Toenails

Alternative name :: Onychocryptosis

What is Ingrown Toenails ?

Ingrown toenails are one the more common foot problems treated by the Podiatrist. They can be very painful, with people limiting their activity to keep off their sore feet. Ingrown toenails are caused by impingement of the skin along the margins of the nail by the nail plate.The ingrown toenail can also apply pressure in the nail fold area without penetrating the skin - this is not technically an ingrown toe nail, but can also be painful (a corn/callus is also common down the side of the nail and is a reaction to this pressure, rather than the nail actually penetrating the skin).

When a toenail is ingrown, the sides or corners of the nail curl down and dig into the skin, causing swelling, pain and redness. Irritation, an uncomfortable sensation of warmth, as well as swelling can result from an ingrown toenail.

What are the causes of Ingrown Toenails ?

While many things can cause ingrown toenails, the major causes are shoes that don't fit well and improperly trimmed nails. Shoes that are too tight press the sides of the nail and make it curl into the skin. Nails that are peeled off at the edge or trimmed down at the corners are also more likely to become ingrown. The most common causes of Ingrown Toe nails are : -

  • Improper trimming of toenails.
  • Trauma to the nail plate or toe.
  • Pressure from the toe next to the nail that has ingrown can sometime be a factor.
  • A 'chubby' or fleshy toe is more likely to have a nail grow into it. Those whose feet swell are a lot are more prone to having this happen.
  • Hose or socks that are too tight.
  • People whose toes curl, either congenitally or from diseases like arthritis, are prone to ingrown toenails.
  • 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.

What are the symptoms of Ingrown Toenails ?

Pain is the main symptom of an ingrown toe nail - usually just starting as some minor discomfort. This may be just the pressure from the side of the nail or it may be because the nail has actually penetrated the skin down the side of the nail. Some common symptoms are :-

  • Pain along the margins of the toenail
  • Aggravated by wearing shoes, particularly those with narrow toes.
  • There may be drainage of pus, or a watery discharge tinged with blood.

Home remedies for thr treatment of Ingrown Toenail

Ingrown toenails should be treated as soon as they are recognized. In many cases, people with uninfected ingrown toenails can obtain relief with the following methods.

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

If the ingrown nail is severe, or if conservative care is difficult, or if the ingrown toenail does not respond well to conservative care, then minor surgical intervention is a good option. Minor surgery is a relatively simple procedure and is very successful for long term relief that is permanent.

Prevention tips for Ingrown Toenail

  • Cut toenails straight across, and leave slightly longer then the end of the toe
  • An infected ingrown nail requires prompt professional attention.
  • Avoid tight fitting foot wear.
  • Using a safety nail clipper, cut the nails straight across, so that the nail corner is visible.

What does an ingrown toe nail (onychocryptosis) look like ?

Usually the side of the nail penetrates deep and it is difficult to see the edge of the nail. The severity of appearance of the nail will vary. Some will just have a nail that appears deeply embedded down the side or sides of the nail. In some the corner or a small spike of nail may penetrate the skin, just like a knife.

Complications of an ingrown toenail

  • Diabetics and those with poor circulation to the feet must never attempt to treat an ingrown toenail at home, consult with a podiatrist or physician immediately.
  • Infection, if present, may spread to foot and leg, or into blood stream.
  • A small benign tumor called a granuloma can form along the nail margin.
  • Loss of nail plate from infection or inflammation of the nail bed.

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