An ingrown toenail is a painful condition of the nail bed where the sides of the toenail grows into the nail bed. The sliver of toenail cuts into the nail bed causing pain, infection and inflammation. Whilst this condition can happen on both hands and feet it most commonly occurs with toenails. Some of the common symptoms of an ingrown toenail are localized pain at the base of the nail, swelling, pus, bleeding and sensitivity to pressure.
What causes ingrown toenails?
There are a number of factors that can cause ingrown toenails. Some people are more genetically prone to getting ingrown toenails. This can be due to the shape of the nail or the amount of skin around the nails. Some families have more rounded concave nails and this can cause the nail to bite into the nail bed when growing.
Another major factor that can cause ingrown toenails is incorrect footwear. Wearing footwear that is too tight or does not provide enough room for the toes can cause nails to grown abnormally. Some of the main culprits are high heels and narrow shoes with small toe-boxes. If you are susceptible to ingrown toenails it is important to get shoes that fit correctly. If you must wear high heels or narrow shoes rotate these with other more comfortable shoes and allow your toenails a chance to grow correctly.
Another common cause of ingrown toenails is improper care of the nails. If a toenail is cut incorrectly it may grow in such as way that it will cause an ingrown toenail. Toenails must be cut straight across, not rounded, and at the right length. If they are cut lower than the surrounding skin the nails may grow into the nail bed causing pain.
Fungal infections can also cause ingrown toenails. These types of disorders can cause the nail to grow thicker and wider leading to ingrown toenails. Any fungal infection should be treated as quickly as possible with the correct medication.
Lastly, trauma to the toe area can cause the nails to grow abnormally, which can lead to ingrown toenails. Dropping an object on the toe, stubbing the toe, or other similar events can cause the toe nail or the nail bed to develop irregularities causing the nail to bite into the flesh. If the toe has consistent pressure against it (such as regular soccer playing) ingrown toenails may occur.