Ingrown toenail also known as onychocryptosis is a common condition in which one side of a toenail grows into the soft flesh. This initially presents minor discomfort, but it can also result in redness, pain, swelling and progress into an infection. Ingrown toenails typically affect the big toe.
Ingrown toenails can be taken care off at home but if the pain becomes severe or spreads, you should consult a physician so he/she can alleviate your discomfort and also avoid any potential complications.
Causes of Ingrown Nail
Ingrown toenails are usually caused by an imbalance between the nail size and the enlargement of the nail skin edge. This condition can be exacerbated by:
- Injuring the toenail
- Wearing shoes that crowd the toenail
- Cutting toenails too short or not straight across
- Having unusually curved toenails
Individuals who have diabetes or another condition which can cause poor blood flow to the feet are at greater risk of complications from ingrown toenails.
Symptoms of Ingrown Nail
Symptoms of ingrown toenails are:
- Clear or yellowish drainage
- Limping, especially in children
- Infection of the tissue around the toenail
You should see a doctor if you are experiencing severe discomfort in the toe, and if the redness or pus seem to be spreading or if you have an underlying medical condition.
Diagnosis of Ingrown Nail
Diagnosing an ingrown toenail is usually straightforward as it does not require diagnostic images or labs. It is usually done based on your symptoms and a physical examination of your toenail and the surrounding skin.
Treatment of Ingrown Nail
Home treatment for ingrown toenail includes:
- Soaking feet in warm water
- Proper nail trimming methods
- Avoiding shoe pressure on the toenails
Your doctor may recommend any of the following treatments:
- Lifting the nail: This is usually done for slightly ingrown nails which are red and a bit painful but show no sign of infection or pus. This involves the doctor lifting the ingrowing nail edge and placing dental floss, cotton or a splint under it. This will separate the nail from the overlying skin and will help the nail to grow above the skin edge. You will however be required to soak the toe and replace the material daily.
- Partial removal of the nail: This is done to treat a more severe ingrown toenail that is red, in pain and has pus. The treatment involves the doctor trimming or removing the ingrown portion of the nail. Your toe will be temporarily numbed by injecting an anesthetic before the procedure.
- Removing the nail and tissue: If the problem keeps re-occurring on the same toe your doctor may recommend removing a portion of the nail together with the nail bed (the underlying tissue). This may prevent the nail from growing back.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service, from initial consultation through to final diagnosis and treatment and beyond. Our multidisciplinary team of expert doctors, nurses, physio therapists are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you might have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.