What is an Ingrown Nail?
When a toenail presses against, pierces, or embeds in the skin surrounding it, it is said to have an ingrown nail. Pain, swelling, and redness are frequently the results. In some cases, it may also result in an infection of the skin. Although it can happen on any toe, the big toe is the most frequently affected.
How do you know you have an Ingrown Nail?
An ingrown nail is typically identified by pain, swelling, redness and inflammation around the toe or fingernail. Often, a small pus-filled bump will form at the side or corner of the nail in severe cases. You may also notice discoloration or thickening of the nail. You may also notice an unpleasant smell near the affected area if the condition becomes infected.
What are the Symptoms of an Ingrown Nail?
- Skin around the nail becoming thicker
- Foul odor
What Causes an Ingrown Nail to Develop?
- Improper nail trimming - cutting the nails too short, rounding down the corners instead of straight across.
- Footwear that does not fit properly - wearing shoes that squeeze the toes together.
- Injury to the nail - from running, stubbing the toe, or activity involving repetitive actions.
- Poor hygiene - consistently cutting the cuticles or using artificial nails that can push the skin forward.
- Fungal infection - fungus can damage the nail, leading to an ingrown nail.
- Heredity - an inherited trait that can cause an ingrown nail.
Understanding the Most Common Types of Ingrown Nails
Toenail: the most common type of ingrown nail, where the corner of the toenail grows into the skin.
Fingernail: when the corner or side of the fingernail grows into the finger's skin.
Residual nail: when a sharp piece of nail is left over after a previous ingrown nail was cut out.
Postoperative nail: when an ingrown nail is surgically removed, and the nail begins to regrow into the cut edge of the nail bed or nearby skin.
Recurrent nail: when an ingrown nail is removed but continues returning after repeated treatments.
Partial Ingrown Nail: A partial ingrown nail is a condition in which a portion of a fingernail or toenail had grown into the skin of the finger or toe before it emerged from the edge of the nail bed. This can lead to inflammation, redness, and discomfort.
Complete Ingrown Nail: A complete ingrown nail is a condition in which the edges of the nail curl into and grow into the skin, often leading to pain, redness, swelling, and infection.
Anterior ingrown nails: Occurs when the nail's corner or edge pierces the skin.
Posterior ingrown nails: Occur when the nail grows into the skin at the back of the nail fold.
How to prevent Ingrown Nails?
- Cut your nails straight across, not in a curved or rounded shape.
- Avoid cutting your nails too short.
- Wear shoes that fit properly and provide adequate space for your toes.
- Wear socks and avoid wearing tight-fitting stockings.
- Keep your feet dry and clean.
- Avoid using chemical treatments on your nails and skin.
- Soak your nails in warm water and Epsom salt solution to reduce swelling and soften the nail.
- Gently massage the area around the cuticle to reduce pressure.
- Remove any debris from under the nail.
- Apply a topical antifungal cream or over-the-counter antiseptic solution to the affected area if needed, such as povidone-iodine or hydrogen peroxide.
What is the recovery time for an Ingrown Nail?
Depending on the severity of the ingrown nail, different recovery times exist but usually range from one to three weeks. In some cases, the nail might have to be removed surgically, which may take longer to recover.
How do you relieve the pain of an Ingrown Nail?
Home remedies are often sufficient to relieve the pain of an ingrown nail. Soaking the affected toe in warm water several times a day can help reduce the pain and swelling. Alternatively, an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Placing a thin piece of cotton or dental floss under the nail's edge may also be helpful in some cases. In more severe cases, a visit to a Podiatrist may be necessary to trim the ingrown nail and prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.
When should you see a podiatrist for an ingrown nail?
It is recommended to see a podiatrist for an ingrown nail if it is causing pain, swelling, or redness in the area, the nail does not grow back in the desired shape after trimming, or the nail is causing recurrent infections.
Planning Your Next Visit
We are committed to providing superior foot care at Greenberg Podiatry in Ottawa. Our team utilizes the latest treatments and technology to provide our patients with personalized, effective care. We strive to keep our patients active and healthy by focusing on prevention and treatment. Our mission is to exceed your expectations, offering you the best foot care experience.
Please take advantage of our personalized advice by contacting Greenberg Podiatry today! A few simple steps could significantly impact your quality of life.