An ingrown toenail is a condition which involves the side or corner of a toenail growing into the soft flesh around it. The predominant symptoms are pain, swelling and redness. An ingrown toenail is a relatively common condition which usually affects the big toe.
Among the most common causes of an ingrown toenail are; cutting toenails too short; not cutting toenails properly; wearing shoes which cramp the toenails; toenail injuries, and having toenails which are unusually curved.
The predominant symptoms of an ingrown toenail include; pain or tenderness in the toe or along with the nail; redness around the toenail; swelling of the toe around the nail; and infection of the tissue which surrounds the toenail.
There are some symptoms which necessitate seeking medical attention promptly, such as; if you have a condition which causes restricted blood flow to the feet, and you experience an infection where you can feel pain or discomfort in the toe, and notice the development of redness or pus.
There are numerous ways in which an ingrown toenail can be prevented. These include; trimming your toenails straight across, rather than trying to achieve a 'curved' shape'; keeping toenails a normal length, rather than trimming them too short; wearing footwear which offers you plenty of room; and wearing protective footwear which can help to prevent toe injury.
Diagnosis of an ingrown toenail can usually be made via a physical examination. Initially, your doctor may recommended applying antibiotic cream, changing your footwear; or taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.
There are a number of options which can be advised if these home remedies haven't worked, or in the case of more severe ingrown toenails - including; lifting the nail, to separate it from the overlying skin; partially removing the nail, which can involve trimming or removing the ingrown section. This can be done as a day case surgery under local anaesthetic with immediate weight bearing and little pain afterwards. The results are usually permanent but there is always a small risk of recurrence.