Ingrown toenails are often a painful and frustrating ordeal, as your nail edge grows into and penetrates the surrounding skin. Painful symptoms can begin even before the nail has pierced the surface, as it starts to push down on the surrounding skin.
Why do ingrown toenails occur?
Ingrown toenails have many causes. This includes:
- Nail cutting technique - Toenails should be cut in a straight, clean line. Curving the edges of the nail too much can encourage the nail to curve down into the skin.
- Picking the nail or pulling of the nail instead of trimming - Not cutting the very edge of the nail and ‘pulling’ the nail off can also leave a nail spicule at the edge of the nail which will then grow into the skin. It is often difficult to see or obstructed by the surrounding skin, so you won’t know that it’s there. Following the same principle, ‘picking’ your nails instead of cutting them can cause the same issue.
- Tight footwear - Tight footwear can also cause ingrown toenails because of the pressure it creates on the toes and surrounding skin that pushes into the nail.
- Hereditary - For others, their cause is uncontrollable genetic factors that dictate the way their nails grow.
Don’t worry - regardless of the cause there are solutions to both alleviate ingrown toenails and to stop them from coming back once and for all!
How do I know if I have ingrown toenails?
The biggest symptom is pain on touch, pressure and movement. The toe may often appear red and swollen. As with anything that breaks the skin, ingrown toenails pose a serious risk of infection so must be treated with caution.
What can I do for it? Can I stop it from coming back permanently?
Those with diabetes, nerve damage or poor circulation should never attempt to treat their ingrown toenails at home. Have your toe examined by your Podiatry team who will determine the best course of treatment. This will involve managing the infection if present and clearing the offending nail edge.
Because ingrown toenails can reoccur, you can discuss with your Podiatrist if a more permanent way of stopping ingrown toenails is appropriate for you. We do this by using a solution to stop the nail cells at the edge of the nail from growing as part of a minor surgical procedure. This leaves you with a natural and straight looking nail edge. We also provide you with education and advice for managing and caring for your toes.