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Ingrown Toenail, Should I Be Concerned?

ingrown toenail exampleAn ingrown toenail is a condition that occurs when the edge of a nail grows into the surrounding skin. It most commonly affects the big toe, but it is possible for any toenail to become ingrown.

What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

There are a number of things that can lead to ingrown nail. Nails that are not trimmed properly and shoes that do not fit properly are the most common causes. Shoes that are either too big or too small cause extra pressure that can lead to ingrown nails. For people who walk or participate in athletics frequently may have problems even if the shoe is only slightly tight. In some cases, deformities of the toes or feet may also place extra pressure on the toe.

When the nails are not trimmed properly, it is also possible for ingrown toenails to occur. The nails should be cut straight across. If the edges are rounded, the nail can curl and grow into the skin. This can also occur of the nail is cut to short. Picking at or tearing the corner of the nail may also have the same effect.

Should I Be Concerned About My Ingrown Toenail?

It is always best to seek medical treatment for an ingrown toenail. This is especially important for anyone who has poor circulation to the foot, diabetes or nerve damage in the foot or leg. It is also necessary to seek medical attention if there appears to be an infection around the nail.

When left untreated, an ingrown nail will often develop into an infection that, in serious cases, could spread through the toe and into the bone. An infection can be very difficult to get rid of and can cause fungus that is also difficult to remove. While the general prognosis for an ingrown toenail is good, is is important to see your doctor before any complications develop.

How Are Ingrown Toenails Treated?

The method of treatment varies depending upon how deeply the nail has grown into the skin, whether an infection is present and the patient’s overall health. Typically medication is injected to numb the affected toe. Next, the nail is cut out from under the skin and removed. Sometimes chemicals, electrical current or another incision are used to prevent the nail from growing back. If an infection is present, the doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics.

Following treatment, it is necessary to maintain proper foot hygiene to prevent the nail from becoming ingrown again.

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