What is an ingrown toenail, and what are the symptoms?
An ingrown toenail is an inconvenient and potentially very painful toe ailment. It occurs when a piece of toenail enters the skin of the toe. The symptoms of an ingrown toenail include pain in the toe and around the nail, swelling and redness, and in advanced cases, infection.
Causes of ingrown toenails
Several factors could cause a toenail to become ingrown. These include:
- The shape of the nail – Curved nails are much more likely to become ingrown. These are often referred to as involuted nails. While it is possible to have involuted toenails without suffering ingrown toenails, the two things are often linked. An involuted toenail will generally pinch at the edges and therefore imbed into the skin.
- Sport and exercise – Football and rugby players are at higher risk of ingrown toenails. This is because the risk of trauma to the toes is high. Other sports that involve repetitive trauma, such as cycling and dancing, may also increase the risk.
- Genetics – There is evidence suggesting that if ingrown toenails are common in the family, you are at higher risk of suffering with them.
- Health issues – If you have diabetes, heart disease, poor circulation, have smoked for many years then you may suffer from repeated ingrown toenails. Ingrown toenails and heart attacks have also been linked together due to patients suffering from PAD (Peripheral Arterial Disease), which can cause leg and feet problems.
- Injury – A non-sport-related injury can leave the toe black and bruised. Sometimes the nail will come away, break or fall off. When a toenail regrows, it can become thicker and misshapen, increasing the risk of an ingrown toenail.
- Shoes – Ill-fitting shoes will apply pressure to your feet and toes and could cause trauma. This may increase the risk of a nail entering the skin. Advice on ill-fitting shoes are also noted on the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ingrown-toenail/
- Weight – Those who are overweight are at increased risk of developing ingrown toenails. The toes have less space due to the extra weight and pressure, which can cause the nails to imbed in the skin.
Prevention of ingrown toenails
• Cut your toenails frequently for ingrown toenail treatment at home
• Wear well-fitted shoes
• Avoid unnecessary pressure
• Clean and rest your feet after sports and injury
• Consult a specialist, such as Louisa Seymour Podiatry, if you suspect you have an ingrown toenail.
Treatment of ingrown toenails
The most important thing is to ensure the correct ingrown toenail care, and treatment is provided before it becomes infected. Contact a podiatrist for information and help. They can treat the problem safely and effectively.
If the ingrown toenail cannot be treated easily, nail surgery may be required. This will remove either all or part of the toenail using a chemical called phenol. This is carried out using a local anesthetic.
For more information on ingrown toenails and podiatry services we provide at Louisa Seymour Podiatry, please contact us on 01277 266870.