Onychocryptosis, commonly known as ingrown nails (unguis incarnatus) or ingrowing nails, is a common form of nail disease. It is a painful condition in which the nail grows or cuts into one or both sides of the nail bed. While ingrown nails can occur in both the nails of the hand and feet, they occur most commonly with toenails. An ingrown toenail is a painful condition of the toe. The area is usually red and may be warm; if not treated, it is prone to infection. With bacterial invasion, the nail margin becomes red and swollen often demonstrating drainage or pus. Often, you can take care of ingrown toenails on your own. If the pain is severe or spreading, however, your doctor can take steps to relieve your discomfort and help you avoid complications of an ingrown toenail.
If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor circulation to your feet, you’re at greater risk of complications from an ingrown toenail. The toenail (and any other nail) is produced by the nail’s germinal matrix (special nail-generating tissue) and grows forward to the end of the toe. Most of us have lost either a fingernail or toenail and watched as the nail regrew slowly over several months. The area under the nail that attaches the nail to the toe is called the sterile matrix. The sterile matrix doesn’t produce the nail. The sterile matrix just attaches the nail to the toe.
What causes an ingrown toenail?
While many things can cause ingrown toenails, the major causes are shoes that don’t fit well and improperly trimmed nails. Shoes that are too tight press the sides of the nail and make it curl into the skin. Nails that are peeled off at the edge or trimmed down at the corners are also more likely to become ingrown.
Symptoms of an ingrown nail include pain along the margins of the nail (caused by hypergranulation that occurs around the aforementioned region), worsening of pain when wearing shoes or other tight articles, and sensitivity to pressure of any kind, even that of light bedding. Irritation, redness, an uncomfortable sensation of warmth, as well as swelling can result from an ingrown toenail. When the toenail grows into the surrounding tissue, a painful toe is the result. Ingrown nails may produce no symptoms at first but eventually may become painful, especially when pressure is applied to the ingrown area. The great toe is usually affected, but any toenail can become ingrown. In people who have diabetes or poor circulation this relatively minor problem can be become quite severe.
Treatment of Ingrown toenails
Here is list of the methods for treating Ingrown toenails:
Apply a mild antiseptic solution to the area.
Soak the foot in warm water 4 times a day. You do not need to add soap or antibacterial agents to the water.
Partial nail removal with cauterization of the nail matrix is curative in 70-90% of cases.
If excessive inflammation, swelling, pain, and discharge develops, the toenail probably is infected and should be treated by a physician. A podiatrist can trim or remove the infected nail with a minor in-office surgical procedure. A portion of the nail or overgrown skin is removed with a scalpel and the infection is treated.
The most common place for ingrown nails is in the big toe, but ingrowth can occur on any nail. Ingrown nails can be avoided by cutting nails straight across; nails should not be cut along a curve, nor should they be cut too short. Footwear which is too small, either in size or width, or those with too shallow a ‘toe box’ will exacerbate any underlying problem with a toenail.