What are ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails are nails that have begun to grow into the tender skin at the side of the toe, causing considerable pain, as well as redness and swelling. Without proper professional care, the area can become infected. If the infection spreads to the rest of the toe, the toe may need to be amputated. People with nerve and circulation problems, including people with diabetes, are more likely to develop infections from ingrown toenails.

What causes ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails occur most commonly as a result of shoes that are too tight in the toe area, causing increased pressure on the nail region that forces the edge of the nail into the tender, soft skin along the edge of the nail bed. People who have thick toenails and nails that tend to grow in a naturally curved shape are more likely to develop ingrown toenails, and people who routinely trim their toenails into rounded, curved shapes are also more likely to have nails that become ingrown.

How are ingrown toenails treated?

Ingrown toenails need to be treated professionally at the first sign of symptoms to prevent infection. Treatment typically involves removing the portion of the nail that has become ingrown, a simple procedure that uses a local anesthetic to prevent discomfort. Once the nail portion or the entire nail has been removed, a special chemical solution is placed along the edge of the nail bed to prevent the nail from regrowing into that area. No stitches are required, and in most cases, patients can resume wearing their normal shoes right after treatment. If an infection is present, it will be treated with antibiotics.

How can I prevent ingrown toenails?

The best ways to prevent ingrown toenails from occurring are to trim toenails straight across and not in a curved shape and to wear shoes that provide plenty of room in the toe area.