An ingrown toenail, also called onychocryptosis, is a very common condition that most of us can relate to. While occasionally suffering from an ingrown toenail can be a painful inconvenience, for some people, multiple toes can be affected simultaneously and repeatedly, turning an inconvenience into a constant battle against pain and infections.
It’s often the case that an inward growing toenail is not obviously causing your troubles. You may have swelling around the nail but be unable to actually see the edge of your nail. Keep on the lookout for the appearance of yellowing, redness, and pus, or if the skin on your toe is warm to the touch, because these are signs that you may have a possible infection and other complications that should be evaluated as soon as possible by your foot specialist.
Some Causes of Ingrown Toenails:
- Haphazard nail cutting—It may be tempting to just hack away at your toenails and hope for the best. After all they can be hard to reach and it’s such a hassle. Just remember, the number one instigator of a nail growing into your skin is you! The nails should be cut straight across with an actual toenail clipper—not scissors—to be certain they are cut evenly and span the width of the toe.
- Injuring your toe—Stubbing or injuring your toe can cause the nail to grow in the wrong direction.
- Improper shoes— High heeled shoes are particularly terrible for ingrown toenails because they force your feet into the front of the shoe, and narrow toe boxes in general should be avoided.
- Fungal nails—Foot fungi can cause very bad and itchy infections, and can sometimes increase the likelihood that a nail will grow into your skin.
Treating Ingrown Toenails
Depending upon how severe your ingrown toenail is, treatments range from conservative all the way to surgical resection. Warm water soaks can help soften the skin around the nail, and aid in preventing infection. Anti-bacterial ointment can also be applied.
If your ingrown toenails prove to be of the chronic variety, your foot doctor may be able to perform a simple outpatient procedure where the toe is numbed, and the ingrown nail is cut out.
At Your Next Step, our team of board-certified podiatrists use advanced technologies and years of experience to help diagnose and treat a wide variety of foot and ankle problems, including ingrown toenails, heel pain, joint pain, toe deformities, nail fungus, and skin issues. Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen provide superior quality foot and ankle care to patients in the greater Philadelphia area at our offices conveniently located in Ardmore, Paoli, and Downingtown. Feel free to contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.