What Is an Ingrown Toenail? What Causes It?
An ingrown toenail develops when part of the edge or corner of a toenail starts to grow into the surrounding flesh. Common symptoms include pain, tenderness, swelling, and redness.
In addition to this discomfort, an ingrown toenail puts you at a higher risk of infection—especially if you have diabetes or poor circulation. If you have one of these underlying conditions, or you notice signs of infection (such as severe pain, drainage of pus, or red streaks extending from the toe), seek professional care immediately.
Some of the most common causes of ingrown toenails include:
- Heredity (some people have naturally curvy nails that are prone to becoming ingrown)
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes
- Cutting nails too short
- Accidental injuries (such as stubbing your toe or dropping a heavy object on your nail)
Permanent Treatment for Ingrown Toenails
Some cases of ingrown toenails do not respond to conservative treatment, and require a more aggressive approach.
In these instances—and especially when a toenail repeatedly becomes ingrown—we might recommend removal of either a portion or the entire affected nail. We can safely and carefully cut out the ingrown portion of the nail, then apply a chemical to the corresponding portion of the nail bed. The result? The ingrown part of the nail can no longer grow back, reducing your risk of future ingrown toenails along the same nail edge to almost zero.
It might sound as though removing a toenail will be painful, but this is not the case. Anesthesia will be used to numb the area prior to the procedure, and by the time it wears off your symptoms should be vastly improved.