Incurving of the nail border that grows into the skin causing irritation, pain, swelling, redness and sometimes infection. As the ingrown nail break into the skin, bacteria may enter and cause an infection in the area that may present with drainage and a malodor.
Causes of ingrown toenails include:
Heredity. In many people, the tendency for ingrown toenails is inherited from the family.
Trauma. In some cases, an ingrown toenail is the result from a history of trauma to the toe, such as stubbing the toe, having an object fall on your toe or engagement in activities that involve repeated pressure on the toes, such as kicking or running.
Improper trimming. Cutting the nails too short may encourage the skin next to the nail to fold over the nail.
Ill fitting shoes. Ingrown toenails can result from wearing socks and shoes that are very tight or short.
Nail conditions. Ingrown toenails can be caused by an underlying nail condition, such as fungal nail infections or history of losing a nail due to past trauma.
Home Care. Soaking in warm water with Epsom salt is advised if no infection present. Avoid attempting “bathroom surgery.” Repeated cutting of the nail may cause the condition to worsen. If symptoms fail to improve, it is time to see a podiatrist.
Physician Care. After examining the toe your doctor will select the treatment best suited for you. The treatment selection will depend on the presence or absence of infection. If an infection is present, an oral antibiotic may be prescribed.
A minor surgical procedure can be performed in the office, will ease the pain and remove the offending nail. After a local anesthetic injection, the doctor will removes the part of the nail that is growing under the skin. If no infection present, your doctor may remove part of the nail root with application of chemical to prevent recurrence of the condition in the future. Following the nail procedure, a light bandage will be applied. Most people experience very little pain after this surgery and may resume normal activity the next day. If your doctor has prescribed an oral antibiotic, be sure to take the medication, even if symptoms improved.