An ingrown toenail, or as it’s known by its official name, onychocryptosis, is the result of the edge of a nail curving and growing down into the skin surrounding the nail plate. Eventually the nail penetrates the skin, causing a very painful irritation that is usually red and swollen. Once the skin is open, bacteria can enter and an infection may develop. Common causes of ingrown toenails include:
- Improper trimming of nails—this is the number one cause of ingrown toenails. Nails that are cut too short or cut with curved sides rather than straight across are way more likely to begin to grow into the skin around the nail plate. In children, peeling or tearing nails off, instead of letting mom or dad trim them, can also increase the likelihood of an ingrown toenail.
- Shoes that don’t fit—when toes are squeezed in shoes with a toe box that is too narrow, there is an increased tendency for a toenail to grow inward. This applies to both adults and children but children tend to quickly outgrow shoes and may not articulate that their shoes are too tight and therefore frequently checking of your children’s feet and toenails is advisable.
- Heredity—for some patients, the tendency toward ingrown toenails is genetic
You can try soaking the affected foot in warm water with Epsom salts several times a day. This may reduce the swelling and allow the nail to be massaged out of the skin and begin to grow correctly. At Paul S. DeMarco, we would rather you come in sooner rather than later with an ingrown toenail, especially if the nail is draining pus or fluid, which could mean that it is infected. An infection in the toenail bed is particularly dangerous if you have diabetes or another disease that weakens the immune or circulatory system.
Our board certified podiatrist, Paul S. DeMarco will examine your toe and then recommend the appropriate treatment. In some cases, removing all or part of the nail may be the best approach. If the nail is infected, an oral or topical antibiotic may also be necessary. To get relief for an ingrown toenail, contact our Somers Point office for an appointment by calling: (609) 927-4894.