What are ingrowing toenails exactly?
Ingrowing toenails are one of the most common problems I treat. As the name implies, an ingrowing toenail occurs when one or both sides of the toenail grows into the adjacent skin margin. When this happens it can lead to an infection, swelling, redness, and pain.
There are a number of reasons we get them, the first being even if your toenails are healthy and grow straight, induced pressure such as from tight footwear, can cause inward growth of toenails. Not cutting your nails correctly can also cause them to ingrow. Your toenails should grow straight across from end to end, and should not be any longer than the tip of your toe. Avoid cutting into the corners and if you feel a sharp edge, use a nail file. Some people cut in the corner of the toenail incorrectly, thinking they are avoiding an ingrowing toenail, but they could actually be creating one.
Other reasons you could get an ingrowing toenail could be trauma, such as having an object fall on your toenail or stubbing your toe on furniture. Repetitive actions such as running or other sports activities can impact your toes. This can cause a change in growth pattern, causing it to grow into the skin. Sometimes it’s just genetics that cause you to inherit this condition.
If you really want to avoid ingrowing nails, you should avoid shoes which are too narrow in the toe area. If you see redness around your toenails, your shoe is too tight.
If you believe you have a problematic ingrowing toenail, I recommend soaking your foot in warm salt water and padding the area to avoid further rubbing or pressure. This should be followed by making an appointment with me for further evaluation and proper treatment. It is important to do this before the ingrowing nail gets to the point where antibiotics are required, and partial removal of the affected side to the root of the nail will need to be done under a local anaesthetic. It should also be noted that if you have diabetes or other systemic health issues, you should see a doctor for proper evaluation and treatment.