Ingrown toenails develop when the edge of a toenail begins to press into the skin alongside the nail bed, digging deeper as the nail grows. Ingrown toenails almost always affect the big toe, and without treatment, they can become infected. The most common causes of ingrown toenails include wearing shoes that are too tight in the toe area and trimming toenails in a curved shape instead of straight across. Naturally curved nails and nails that are very thick are also more likely to become ingrown, and infections tend to be more common among people with poor circulation and numbness in the feet, including diabetics, and those with weaker immune systems.
In addition to infection, ingrown toenails typically cause pain and tenderness in the toe, especially when the nail is pressed. Redness and swelling are also common, and if an infection is present, these symptoms can be markedly worse.
Ingrown toenails must be professionally trimmed to remove gently the nail portion that is pressing into the skin along the side of the nail bed. Trimming ingrown nails at home can increase the risk of infection, and unless the nail is trimmed properly, the ingrown nail can recur. In some cases, a large portion of the nail will need to be removed to resolve the problem. Antibiotic medications will also be used to fight off infection, and a special solution can be applied to prevent the nail from re-growing into the skin.
The best ways to avoid ingrown toenails and subsequent infections are to wear shoes that fit properly, provide plenty of space in the toe, trim nails straight across so they don't grow into the skin, and to see a podiatrist at the first sign of pain or redness. Then the nail can be treated, and infection can be prevented or treated in its earliest stages.
We participate in several insurance plans, please see the full list of plans that we accept. If you do not see yours, call our office to see how we can help.