Ingrown toenail refers to a common condition which occurs when the side or corner of the toenail grows into your flesh. This may result in symptoms such as pain, swelling, redness and sometimes even infection. Ingrown toenails usually occur in the big toe of the foot.
An ingrown toenail can often be handled at home. If however, pain is too severe or radiating, you can see your doctor to take steps to reduce pain and avoid complications.
For diabetics and people suffering from conditions involving poor circulation to the feet, the risk of future complications associated with ingrown toenail increases.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of ingrown toenail include the following:
- Redness around the affected toenail
- Pain and tenderness in the toe
- Swelling around the nail
- Infection around the toenail
When to seek medical attention
It is important that you see you doctor if you experience severe pain or discomfort in the toe or if signs of infection occur such as pus, drainage or redness that appear to be spreading. People with diabetes or poor circulation in the foot or lower extremities should also see their doctor if they develop any foot sores or infection.
Ingrown toenail is a problem when the toenail grows in the soft flesh around the nail – which is often in the case of the big toe.
Causes of ingrown toenail commonly include:
- Wearing shoes that may result in crowding of the toenails
- Not cutting the toenails straight across or cutting them too short
- Toenail injuries
- Unusual curvature of the toenails
Ingrown toenails can be effectively treatment using home treatment steps:
- Soak your feet in warm water. Do this several two to three times a day for 15 to 20 minutes. this will reduce tenderness and swelling around the toenail
- Place dental floss or cotton under the toenail. Placing fresh waxed dental floss or cotton under the ingrown region of the toenail after soaking the feet can help the nail slowly grow above the skin. Make sure you change the dental floss or cotton daily until symptoms such as pain and redness resolve.
- Apply a topical antibiotic. This will reduce the risk of infection. Cover the tender region with a bandage.
- Wear proper footwear. Wear open-toes footwear and sandals to allow your feet to relax.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication. Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or others can help reduce pain until you see your doctor.
- Examine your feet. This should be done especially if you have diabetes. Check your feet and toenails daily for signs of ingrown toenail or other foot problems so that you can seek early treatment.