Common causes of and treatments for ingrown toenails
Ingrown toenails, known medically as onychocryptosis or unguis incarnates, are a painful condition that occurs when the sharp corner of the nail digs into the skin at the end or side of the toe.
Generally, the first indication of an ingrown nail is pain, redness and swelling where the nail is digging into the skin. Any toe can have an ingrown nail, but the big toe is usually the one affected. Ingrown nails are common in adults and especially in men and women in their 20s and 30s.
Some common causes of ingrown toenails are:
Tight-fitting shoes, including high heels that compress the toes together
Toenails that are improperly trimmed
Left untreated, ingrown nails may become infected. When infected, the swelling will increase and white or yellow pus will come from the area. This can eventually develop into an abscess.
At-home treatments are a great first line of defense against ingrown nails that are not infected, but if the nail doesn’t improve after a few days or your condition worsens, a doctor visit will be in order.
The doctor will assess which treatment will work best for your situation. Some common treatments are antibiotics, splints to protect the skin of your toe from the nail or filing or cutting the nail in order to change its shape. If skin has grown around the nail, the doctor may choose to remove the nail.
If an infection is present in the nail, surgery may be required in order to remove either part of or the entire nail. It will grow back.
The best way to prevent an ingrown nail from occurring is to make sure the nails remain straight whenever you trim them. Make sure it’s not rounded and that the edge of the nail is longer than the skin on the edge of your toe. Wearing shoes that fit well and keeping your feet clean and dry are also important ways to prevent nails from becoming ingrown.
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