Ingrown Toenail

Ingrown toenail

Ingrown toenail

Many people, especially those who cut their toenails too short, as well as those who wear tight shoes, usually experience the problem of ingrown toenails. When the edge or corner of the nail sinks into the adjacent skin and you start feeling the pain on the sides of your nails, especially when wearing inappropriate shoes, you may have gotten into this problem. Here is what you will read next:


What are the symptoms of ingrown toenail?

What are the main causes of ingrown toenail?

Diagnosis of ingrown toenail disease

How to treat the ingrown toenail?

Postoperative cares




What are the symptoms of ingrown toenail?

Although it can occur in any of the foot toes, but usually occurs in the big toe. Swelling, pain and redness are common symptoms of this problem.

In the early stages we see the following symptoms:

  • Applying pressure to the sides of the nail is painful
  • The skin adjacent to the nail is sensitive, painful and swollen

If for any reason, damaged skin becomes infected, the following symptoms will be added to the above symptoms:

  • Damaged skin near the nail becomes swollen and red
  • Skin may become painful
  • Discharge coming out of the sides of the nail and adjacent skin
  • Overgrowth of the skin around the finger

Remember that if you reach this stage, treatment is necessary.

To sum up, the nail for various reasons may sinks into the skin on the sides of the nail. This early-stage injury can cause inflammation, swelling and pain especially when putting pressure on the swollen skin just adjacent the nail's corner. As the problem persists and the treatment fails, damaged tissue may become infected. Chronic infection stimulates the surrounded skin which will increases the growth of the skin at the edge of the nail. This so-called skin proliferation may be as much as so that skin completely covers the side of the nail.


What are the reasons of developing ingrown toenails?

  • Improper nail trimming:

When you round the corners of your nails, as the growth of the nail happens, these curved sides will sink into the skin.

  • Having round and irregular edges at the corners of the nails

  • Wearing tight-fitting shoes:

Applying pressure with tight shoes also causes the corners of the nails to sink into the skin surrounding them.

  • Improper foot hygiene (for example, people whose feet sweat a lot):

Keep your feet dry and clean

Any blunt physical injuries like falling heavy objects on toenails can make them grow in inappropriate shape. This process called malformation and in its worst case can cause ingrown toenails.

  • Athletes who shoot the ball regularly.

  • Some congenital nail disorders:

The nails that are too large for the finger or too small are more probable to sink into the skin.

  • Some predisposing genetic factors

  • Ballet dancers, soccer players and boxers

It is interesting to note that ballet dancers, soccer players and boxers suffer from this complication more than other athletes due to repeated pressure placed on the toes.

This complication is more common in adolescents and the elderly who do not take proper care of their feet.


Diagnosis of the ingrown toenails:

In most cases, a clinical examination is sufficient to diagnose this complication, but sometimes imaging is needed to diagnose accompanying injuries or to estimate the depth of the lesion. For example, sometimes the ingrown toenails are accompanied by fungal infection that needs sufficient period of anti-fungal treatment. In some other cases, there may be an underlying bony prominence that pushes the nail to grow in bad shape that may require corresponding surgery.


How is ingrown toenail treated?

Home remedies for this problem that you can consider include:

  • Fill a bowl with warm water and soak your feet into it for 15 to 20 minutes. You can repeat this process three times a day. Remember to dry your feet and toes thoroughly after the procedure.
  • You can gently lift the corner of the nail and put a little clean linen cloth under it (some articles recommend to first soak linen in olive oil)
  • Avoid wearing sharp and tight shoes. Try to wear open-toed shoes before full recovery.
  • Make sure your feet are clean and completely dry.
  • Avoid taking antibiotics arbitrarily
  • If you have a lot of pain, you can use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).

Your symptoms should be reduced with these treatments. If this does not happen within two or three days or if your symptoms get worse or if you have difficulty in walking, home remedies may not be enough, and you should see a doctor. If your finger is infected, antibiotics will be prescribed by your doctor.

Sometimes this complication requires surgery. During the surgery, a part of the edge of the nail that sunk into the adjacent skin will be removed. Moreover, the sides and edges of the nail are completely smoothed. Sometimes the doctor uses phenol to destroy nail forming cells to minimize the probability or recurrence.

It is interesting to know that this surgical method, i.e. partial nail removal, prevents up to ninety-eight percent of the recurrence of the complication. However, in some occasions, a complete removal of the nail is required under local anesthesia, which is called a 'full matrixectomy'


Postoperative care

After surgery, you will return home with a bandaged finger. It is necessary to observe the following points after surgery:

  • Keep your feet up for two or three days.
  • Avoid excessive activity
  • The bandage is usually removed three days later, after which it is best to use open-toed shoes for a while and soak your feet in a bowl of clean water two or three times a day (fifteen minutes each time).
  • Analgesics and antibiotics may continue for some time.


Sometimes, due to predisposing genetic conditions, some people develop this complication in several toes at the same time. In these cases, partial or full matrixectomy may be chosen by the physician as the main treatment method.


Note: This complication should be treated very seriously in patients with diabetes




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