What causes them?
Ingrown toenails are most common in the big toe, and occur most often from poor-fitting footwear. This is because tight shoes can put pressure on the nail, and force them to grow downwards instead of growing outwards.
They can also occur from direct trauma, such as in dropping a heavy object on your toe. Some people are more prone to getting ingrown toenails simply because their nails tend to grow in curved.
How can they be prevented?
One of the best ways you can prevent ingrown toenails is cut your toenails straight across, without rounding out the corners. When cutting your toenails, it is important to make sure that you do not cut your toenails too short, as this can also increase the chance of developing an ingrown toenail.
Wearing appropriate-fitting shoes, like those with a wide toe box, will also help prevent ingrown toenails by preventing the deforming pressure on the nails that can lead to ingrown toenails.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Most patients with ingrown toenails report pain on the sides of the toenail where it digs into the skin. This may be accompanied by swelling, redness, and discharge if infected.
How are they treated?
Treatment for ingrown toenails depends on its severity. For some patients, simply removing a portion of the offending nail will solve the problem. This must be done correctly, however, or it will likely come back. For this reason, when toenails are ingrown it is best to leave this to a professional. For more severe cases, more of the nail might have to be removed and a chemical can be used to make sure that portion of nail will not grow back.
If left untreated, ingrown toenails will usually not resolve on their own, and can lead to infection; for this reason, if you think you might have an ingrown toenail, make an appointment with MSFAS.