An ingrown toenail occurs when the corners or sides of the nail dig painfully into the soft tissue of the nail grooves. This often leads to pain, swelling, redness and/or infection.
The ingrown toenail is a condition that may be present in all ages; however, it is seen most frequently in children. It is usually the great toe that is affected, but any digit may be involved. It is not unusual to encounter this condition involving both borders of one nail or multiple digits.
Factors that can contribute to the development of an ingrown toenail include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following: improper trimming of nails, tight shoe gear or hosiery, injury, pregnancy, hereditary, fungal infection, and bio-mechanical dysfunction.
To avoid the woes of the toes one should trim the toenails straight across and smooth with file or emery board. Wear only properly fitted shoes and hosiery that are not constrictive. Mild presentations of the condition frequently may be self-treated by those who have learned by experience, to remove the appropriate amount of nail for relief of symptoms. However, spontaneous cure, especially once infection is present, is unusual and in most instances, professional intervention is required.
If the problem is severe or chronic, surgery to remove all of a portion of the nail may be recommended. Most surgeries are performed comfortably under local anesthesia, and require less than one hour at the podiatric surgeon’s office. For most cases of ingrown nails, only the portion of nail growing into the skin is removed. If both of the sides of the nail are ingrown, they may be removed; the growth center or matrix is then destroyed providing permanent correction. Most people experience very little pain following the nail surgery and the healing process generally does not interfere with daily activities.