Ingrown toenails can form when the side of a toenail begins to grow into the flesh surrounding the nail. As a result, the affected toe—most commonly the big toe—may become red, swollen, painful, and—in severe cases—infected.
There are many reasons why an ingrown toenail may develop. Improperly cutting your toenails is a major cause of ingrown toenails. If toenails aren’t cut straight across or are cut too short, the likelihood of getting an ingrown toenail may increase. Other causes include having unusually curved toenails, wearing shoes that don’t give your toes an ample amount of space, and hereditary factors. Injuring the toe by stubbing it or having an object fall on it may also lead to ingrown toenails. If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can lead to further complications with the foot.
If you are someone who has diabetes, it’s extremely important to remain mindful of ingrown toenail prevention, as minor cuts or simple scrapes can lead to serious complications. You can prevent ingrown toenails by ensuring toenails are straight across and at a moderate length, wearing shoes that fit properly, and checking feet daily for signs of foot issues.
Treatment for an ingrown toenail will vary on a case by case basis. One form of treatment requires lifting the ingrown nail and placing a splint or piece of cotton underneath. Another method for a more severe case would involve partially removing the nail. For cases that need extreme care, the nail itself and tissue would have to be removed.
If you’d like more information about ingrown toenails, we recommend you consult with a podiatrist who can give you a proper diagnosis and go over your treatment options.