What Is an Ingrown Toenail?
An ingrown toenail happens when the side border of your toenail starts to dig inward and irritate
the skin of your toe. An ingrown toenail is most likely to happen with the big toe of either foot.
However, it can happen to any toe under the right circumstances.
What Causes an Ingrown Toenail?
An ingrown toenail is most frequently caused by shoes that are too tight. When there’s not
enough room for your big toes in your shoe, the constant friction between the edges of the toes
and the shoe makes it far more likely that an ingrown toenail will develop.
Clipping your nails incorrectly or too infrequently can also be a factor. If the nail is cut too short,
then the risk of an ingrown nail will increase during the period when the nail is “growing in.” It is
always best to cut the toenail with a slight curve to promote it growing in the proper orientation.
Sometimes, a toenail may grow in that is too large for the size of its nail bed, despite no other
contributing factors. In general, if there are genetic or structural factors that predispose a person
to ingrown toenails, he or she will begin to experience them early in life, often during childhood.
What to Do When You Have One?
Once you’ve had an ingrown toenail, you are much more likely to have another one in the
future. The best way to deal with an ingrown toenail is to consult with a qualified podiatrist or
another specialist. This is especially true if there is significant redness and swelling.
Once an ingrown toenail happens, it does not usually get better on its own. In fact, it is likely to
worsen significantly as the nail gets longer. When the nail digs deeper into the skin, it becomes
much more likely that an infection will take root – which is both painful and dangerous.
If you have a minor ingrown toenail, it may be safe for you to treat it yourself at home.
Using a pair of tweezers and a set of standard nail clippers, it is sometimes possible to clip away
the ingrown part of a toenail. Gently lifting the bent corner of the nail can allow you to access it.
However, if the cut is ragged or uneven, it can increase your future risk.
Preventing Future Ingrown Toenails
To prevent ingrown toenails in the future, it’s helpful to evaluate why you might have gotten one
in the first place. Shoes are usually to blame, so check to make sure you haven’t been wearing
shoes that are too narrow in the toe area.
If this isn’t the problem, then toenail grooming might be a factor. If you cut your toenails very
short sometime over the last few months, be sure to let them grow out further in the future: The
leading (top) edge should be at least an inch longer than the nail bed.
If none of these factors are involved, there’s a possibility that you might have a more serious
issue relating to your toes. If you suffer from more than one ingrown toenail on either foot or
more than one instance of ingrown toenails in a single year, see a physician.
An ingrown toenail is very painful – and in the most severe cases, it can be totally debilitating.
The key is to get appropriate treatment as soon as you can before any of the worst
complications can arise. Bronx podiatry at Boulevard Medical Healthcare can help.
To find out more or set an appointment, contact us today.