Ingrown is a curved nail that grows into the skin, usually at the nail borders. This “digging in” of the nail irritates the skin, often creating pain, redness, swelling, warmth and soft tissue infection. Even if the toe isn’t painful, red, swollen, or warm, an ingrown nail that curves downward into the skin can progress to an infection.
Causes of ingrown toenails include:
- Improper trimming. The most common cause of ingrown toenails is cutting your nails too short. This encourages the skin next to the nail to fold over the nail.
- Improperly sized footwear
- Nail Conditions. Ingrown toenails can be caused by nail problems, such as fungal infections or losing a nail due to trauma.
Home treatment is strongly discouraged if an infection is suspected, or for those who have medical conditions that put feet at high risk, such as diabetes, nerve damage in the foot, or poor circulation. Avoid attempting “bathroom surgery.” Repeated cutting of the nail can cause the condition to worsen over time.
If an infection is present, an oral antibiotic may be prescribed. Sometimes a minor surgical procedure, often performed in the office, will ease the pain and remove the offending nail. Some nails may become ingrown again, requiring removal of the nail root.
Following the nail procedure, a light bandage will be applied. Most people experience very little pain after surgery and may resume normal activity the next day.