What can cause an ingrown toenail?
An Ingrown toe nail can occur in any of the nails, but most commonly occur in the big toes, and are often the result of:
• Cutting nails too short or incorrectly.
• Wide fan-shaped toenails or alternatively pincer shaped nails, that curl around and pinch the skin between either side.
• Wearing incorrectly fitting shoes that squeeze the toes together too much.
• Traumatic injury to the toenail, which can result in the nail thickening or growing incorrectly
• Fungal nail infections can also cause nails to thicken up and grow incorrectly.
• Excessively sweaty feet will make the soft tissue around the nails softer, and so easier for nail to penetrate.
What to do if you have an ingrown toenail.
Ingrown toenails can just become slightly swollen and uncomfortable, however, eventually they may become infected and painful.
If the nail has started to become ingrown, a Podiatrist can cut back the nail and remove the ingrown section of the nail, which will reduce the pressure from the nail on the surrounding soft tissue and make the toe a lot more comfortable.
In toes where the area around the ingrown toenail has become infected, the foot should be soaked 2 or 3 times daily, in cooled down salty water. Depending on the extent of infection, it may also be necessary to have a course of antibiotics. If there is discharge from the infected area, the toe should be dressed with a clean dry dressing and redressed daily until the infection has cleared.
For ingrown toenails where infection keeps reoccurring or which are painful, a Podiatrist can perform a small surgical procedure to resolve the problem permanently.
A small amount of local anesthetic is injected into the base of the toe, and then the section of nail that is ingrown is removed. The nail bed is then treated with a chemical, that will prevent this section of nail from regrowing.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails.
To try and reduce the occurrence of ingrown toenails, there are some simple steps to follow:
• Cut nails across following the curve of the nail.
• Avoid cutting nails too short or digging down the sides.
• Ensure shoes and socks are not too tight.
• Wear cotton socks or socks made of moisture wicking material, to reduce level of moisture between toes from excessive sweating.
When to consult a Podiatrist.
If your ingrown toenails are causing discomfort or becoming infected, or you have medical conditions such as diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, or are immunocompromised, and you need advice or treatment, you should consult a Podiatrist who is registered with the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council) which is the national regulating body. The HCPC online register is available at https://www.hcpc-uk.org