Some people pay the least attention to their feet, but for most of us who love to wear open-toed shoes, a pedicure is not optional. The problem with trimming the nails, however, is the tendency to cut the nails too short especially on the sides of the nails. This habit results in ingrown nails that can feel tender and painful.
What Causes an Ingrown Toenail
Ingrown toenails, or onychocryptosis in medical terms, are more common than you think, that’s because most people tend to trim their nails to follow the shape of the toes. The corners are tapered so that the nails appear curved. This is a mistake, however, and can result to ingrown nails if you wear ill-fitting shoes that rub against the skin of your toes.
An ingrown toenail is the growth of the skin on one or two sides of the nail, and there is a tendency for the nail to grow over the edges or to grow on the skin too. An ingrown toenail can feel tender, hard, and swollen. Sometimes it can also get infected and inflamed, and pus might appear on the affected area.
The most common causes of ingrown toenails are the following: the incorrect grooming of the nails; wearing ill-fitting shoes; ingrown toenails might be inherited especially if the nails on the big toes are large; the thickening of the nail plate; the shape of a toenail; the result of bunions or toe deformities; a side-effect of isotretinoin; subungual exostosis; toenail fungus; and trauma to the toes (like being stepped on).
How to Get Rid of an Ingrown Toenail
There are two ways to get rid of ingrown toenails based on the severity of the problem. Nonsurgical treatments involve proper grooming of the feet, while surgical treatment is usually recommended for ingrown nails that cause excessive inflammation and pain.
To determine which treatment is best for you, the problem has to be classified into one of the 3 categories; mild, moderate or severe. Mild ingrown toenails involve slight pain with pressure, edema, swelling of the nail fold, and erythema. Moderate types have drainage, ulceration in the nail fold, and infection. While severe ingrown nails have nail-fold hypertrophy, severe inflammation, and granulation.
You can treat ingrown toenails at home by practicing correct feet hygiene. Soak or wash your feet 4 times a day with antibacterial soap or apple cider vinegar. You might have to change your footwear too and opt for shoes that are not too tight or narrow and have low heels and proper arch support. Make sure to keep your feet clean and dry all the time, and trim your nails straight across without rounding the corners.
For severe cases, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics to stop the infection, and recommend the partial or complete removal of the nail. Patients who suffer from chronic ingrown toenails usually undergo permanent removal of the affected nail.