When a toenail is ingrown the skin on the side of the toenail grows over the edge of the nail, or the nail grows into the skin causing swelling, pain and redness. Ingrown toenails are a common condition and are known to physicians as onychocryptosis.

igtn_picThe most common causes of ingrown toenails are shoes that don’t fit correctly and improperly trimmed nails for example cutting nails too short or attempting to taper the corners with the shape of the toe.

Other causes include toenails that are simply too large, trauma, such as stubbing a toe, frequent running, excessively tight socks or stocking and bed-ridden patients can often develop ingrown toenails if bed sheets are tucked-in tightly.

Soaking the feet in warm soapy or salty water and applying a mild antiseptic cream and bandaging the toe can treat uninfected ingrown toenails.

Over the counter products are also available which harden the sink and shrink the soft tissue along the edge of the nail so it grows normally. If the toenail is infected it should be treated by a physician who will trim or remove the infected nail with a minor surgical procedure and treat the infection.

If an ingrown toenail recurs, it may require a more permanent solution where a portion of the nail is removed with a scalpel or burned with a chemical solution to make the nail narrower and prevent a portion of the nail growing back.

To avoid ingrown toenails you should cut your nails straight across, protect your feet from trauma and wear shoes with adequate room for your toes.

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