Ingrown Toenails

Definition

Onychocryptosis, commonly known as ingrowing nails, is a common form of nail disease. It is an often 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.

Causes

1. Poor maintenance [like cutting the nail too short, rounded off at the tip or peeled off at the edges (versus being cut straight across)

2. Ill-fitting shoes [those that are too narrow or too short can cause bunching of the toes in the developmental stages of the foot (frequently in those under 21), causing the nail to curl and dig into the skin.

3. Trauma to the nail plate or toe [which can occur by stubbing the toenail, dropping things on the toe and ‘going through the end of your shoes’ during sports, can cause the flesh to become injured and the nail to grow irregularly and press into the flesh.

4. Predisposition abnormally shaped nail beds, nail deformities caused by diseases, and a genetic susceptibility to nail problems can mean a tendency to ingrowth.

Treatment

Treatment of ingrown nails ranges from soaking the afflicted area to surgery. The appropriate method is dictated by the severity of the condition. In nearly all cases, drainage of blood or watery discharge should mean a trip to the doctor, usually a podiatrist, a specialist trained explicitly to treat these conditions. Most practitioners agree that trying to outwait the condition is nearly always fruitless, as well as agonizing.

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