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Ingrown Toenails - Picture, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Ingrown Toenails

Also known as toe infection, nail infection, ingrown nail or onychocryptosis, the ingrown toenails are one of the most common foot problems treated by a chiropodist and podiatrist. This condition occurs when the corner, one or both of the lateral edges of the nail grows into the soft flesh of the toe, usually the big toe, and the splinter of nail or the whole nail causes pressure into the skin that result in pain, swelling, redness and sometimes, infection that also limits the patients activity wanting to keep off their sore feet.

In some cases the condition is chronic with repeated episodes of pain and infection although they are not associated; infection can be present without pain and vice verse. Symptoms of ingrown toenails include redness around the nail, swelling, increased warmth, infection of the tissue and tenderness in toe along the sides of the nail and pain. Infection might be risk of complications for people with diabetes or another diseases causing poor circulation on their feet.

The common causes of ingrown toenails include wearing shoes that crowd the toenails, cutting the toenails too short or not straight across, injuries to the toenail, unusually thickening or curved toenails. Anyone can develop this condition but people with toenails that curve down are more prone to suffer this condition the same as older adults because nails tend to thicken with age.

Due to the pain most patients are reluctant to have this condition treated but left undetected, the ingrown toenails can infect the underlying bone leading to serious bone infections or in patients with diabetes a foot ulcers left untreated may become infected and eventually gangrenous with risk of amputation as the only treatment option.

Everybody can take care of this condition on their own following these guidelines:

- Wear well fitting shoes or sandals and avoid high heels or tight-fitting shoes.

- Soak the foot in warm water 4 times a day

- Wash the foot including the affected area twice a day with soap and water

- Keep the foot clean and dry during the rest of the day

- Take any antibiotics, if prescribed, to calm the pain

- Keep the wound clean and dry or follow any specific wound care received

- If the ingrown toenails have not improvement within 3 days, call your doctor

The best method of prevention is careful clipping of the toenails this way:

- Spread newspapers on the ground to catch nail clippings and your feet

- Sit on the ground and hold toe clippers in one hand, grasping your foot with the other

- Cut straight across your big toenail and avoid cutting them rounded or too short

- Repeat for other toes

- Gather the paper with clippings and throw away

- Inspect ground for escaped clippings.

The toe usually heals well after the mentioned procedures but if part of the toenail was removed, it will grow back within 12 months.

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