What is an Ingrown Nail?
An Ingrown nail, Onychocryptosis, occurs when the nail plate penetrates the skin. Although it can affect any nail, it typically afflicts the nail grooves of the big toe. This common condition can be exquisitely painful and has several causes:
Trauma- Trauma to the nail can cause it to grow irregularly and penetrate the flesh.
Predisposing Factors– Genetics, abnormally shaped nail beds, and nail plates that have been deformed by disease may be more prone to becoming ingrown.
Pain- Pain and sensitivity along the margins of the nail may indicate an ingrown nail.
Infection- Ingrown nails are highly susceptible to infection. Signs include swelling at the base or sides of the nail, redness, and pus drainage.
At home- If the ingrown nail is mild and not infected, soaking the foot in warm water with Epsom’s salt may help. Limited home care is advised, especially for those with diabetes, nerve damage, or poor circulation.
Surgery- If symptoms persist or worsen, Dr. Murray or Dr. Chang can perform a minor procedure to permanently remove the offending border.
Trimming-Proper trimming cannot prevent most cases of ingrown toenails, but nails should not be cut too short. Be sure to leave the leading edge of the nail plate free of the flesh.
- Don’t place cotton under the nail. This provides a hotbed for bacteria.
- “Bathroom surgery” and repeatedly trimming affected nails will not help.
- Cutting a notch in the nail will not help.