Understanding Ingrown Nail
What Is an Ingrown Nail?
Ingrown nails -- when the nail grows into the flesh instead of over it -- usually affect the toenails, particularly the big toe. People with curved or thick nails are most susceptible, although anyone can suffer from ingrown nails as a result of an injury, poorly fitting shoes, or because of improper grooming of the feet. People with diabetes or vascular problems need to be aggressive in treating and preventing minor foot ailments such as an ingrown toenail because they can develop into serious medical problems such as loss of a limb.
A damaged or improperly trimmed nail can become ingrown, burrowing into the skin at the side of the nail bed. The site can become painful and infected and may not heal until the nail is removed. If a nail is ingrown, soften the area with water or lotion; lift the nail away from the skin and trim the ingrown portion. To avoid ingrown nails, always trim nails straight across.
What Causes It?
Ingrown nails are most frequently caused by cutting your toenails too short or rounding the nail edges, or by wearing ill-fitting shoes or tight hosiery that press the nail into your toe. You can also develop an ingrown nail after an injury such as stubbing your toe.
If the condition causing the ingrown toenail continues, overgrowth of the tissue over the nail can lead to permanent changes in the tissue that can cause infection, more pain, and more swelling.