An ingrown toenail is a common condition often seen in the big toenail. An ingrown toenail is caused by the pressure from the ingrowth of the nail edge into the skin of the toe. Once the edge of the nail breaks through the skin, it produces inflammation. Initially presenting as a minor discomfort, it may progress into an infection in the skin and/or become a reoccurring problem. The signs and symptoms of ingrown toenails can vary dramatically, particularly if an infection develops. An unresolving ingrown toenail can have serious consequences. A localized infection of the nail border can progress to a deeper soft-tissue infection.
The main causes of an ingrown toenail are improper trimming of the toenail, an inherited or hereditary condition, and improper shoe fitting. Injury and nail picking are also common causes. Persons with diabetes or those who have a compromised immune system should promptly seek the care of a podiatrist/physician for ingrown toenail treatment. If home treatments are not successful within a week or there is persistent pain and/or signs of infection, podiatric medical treatment is recommended. Ingrown toenail symptoms and signs include redness, pain, and swelling. Sometimes there may be a clear yellowish drainage, or if it becomes infected, pus drainage. Occasionally, ingrown toenails resolve without treatment.
Conservative treatments include soaks, elevation, good foot hygiene, avoidance of shoe pressure on the toenails and proper methods to trim the nails. Sometimes Oral antibiotics may be required as a treatment. Sometimes minor toenail surgery is required. Making the proper diagnosis requires taking into account the medical history and all possible causative factors. If you are unsure, seek professional help. Some conditions such as tumors, foreign bodies, trauma, and fungal infection may appear to be an ingrown toenail to the untrained eye. For an in-depth consultation, contact Dr.Bruce Theall at Gentle Touch Foot Care at 973 673-3668.