An ingrown toenail is a condition where the side or corner of a toenail grows into the surrounding soft tissue. This can result in pain, inflammation, and infection. It commonly affects the big toe but can occur on any of the toenails. This condition often occurs when a person cuts their toenails too short or wears shoes that are too tight or have narrow toe boxes – cutting the nails in a curved shape rather than straight across can also increase the risk of ingrown toenails. Other contributing factors include poor hygiene, trauma to the nail, fungal infections, and medical conditions such as diabetes that can make feet more prone to injury.
The most common symptom of an ingrown toenail is pain at the side or corner of the affected nail. The area may be swollen, red, and tender if an infection occurs. In some cases, pus may drain from the wound, and warm water soaks can help ease discomfort. If left untreated, ingrown toenails can become swollen and painful due to infection. Podiatrists may recommend various treatments or procedures to address the severity of ingrown toenails, such as debridement for infected tissue removal.
Surgical removal options span from partial nail plate excision and matricectomy (which destroys part/all of the nail matrix) to a complete avulsion involving removing all parts of the affected nail. In addition to surgical treatments, a podiatrist can also advise on caring for your feet to help reduce risk factors associated with developing ingrown toenails. This may include recommendations about properly trimming nails and wearing shoes appropriate for your foot type and activity level. They may also provide preventative care, such as regular foot inspections and treatments designed to keep your feet healthy and strong.