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In-Growing Toe Nails

By: Steven Goodman - Updated: 14 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
In-growing Toenails In Growing Toenails

Having in-growing toenails can be an embarrassing and painful experience. In-growing toenails are at their least unattractive and if left untreated they can lead to a painful infection requiring medical attention. The medical term for in-growing toenails is Onychocryptosis, and it is one of the most common foot problems encountered by foot care specialists. Many people suffering from in-growing toenails fail to have them treated in a timely fashion. In-growing toenails can be quite painful. Patients may fear the additional pain being poked and prodded by a podiatrist can bring. However rest assured that foot care professionals know exactly how to examine in-growing toenails, and the consequences of not having severe in-growing toenails not looked at by a professional far outweigh any discomfort you may experience during the examination.

Causes of In-growing Toenails

A toenail is considered in-growing when the side of the nail cuts “in” to the skin next to it. It can happen to any toe, but most commonly occurs in the big toe. In-growing toenails can be quite painful. Acute in-growing toenails, those that are likely caused by injury to the toe or damage to the nail, causing the nail to imbed deeply into the skin, can be very painful and can become infected. Acute in grown toenails will be red and inflamed, they may bleed and or discharge pus. Somewhat less severe are chronic in-growing toenails, which usually occur over along period of time, due to nail neglect or improper footwear. Chronic in-growing toenails maybe swollen and inflamed and tender to the touch but will not be near as painful as acute in-growing toenails. Improper cutting of the toenails is a common cause of in-growing toenails, Toenails should always be cut straight across, and not rounded off at the edges as many people do. Other causes of in-growing toenails can include:

  • Tight or improper fitting shoes and hosiery
  • Unusually shaped toes or nails
  • Unusually thick toenails

Treatments for In-growing Toenails

A physician should look at acute in-growing toenails that are obviously infected. For less severe chronic in-growing toenails the following self-help remedies can be tried to alleviate the problem:

Soak the affected toe in warm water for at least 10 minute to soften the skin about the in-growing nail. Than with a wad of clean cotton or gauze pad gently push the softened skin down away form the nail. Repeat this every day for a few weeks.

As the nail becomes exposed away from the skin and no longer appears “in growing” try slipping a bit of cotton between nail and the skin to keep it growing forward. Do not cut the nail until it has grown significantly straight and away from the end of the toe, then cut it straight across with no rounded edges.

For more severe or acute in-growing toenails, medical treatment may be necessary. This can include:

  • Application of antibiotic creams or oral antibiotics to fight infection.
  • Surgery – Your foot care specialist may need to remove part of the offending nail if in-growing persists. It is a simple in office procedure where your toe will be made numb, the doctor will cut down the offending nail to the nail bed, and treat the remaining part of the nail with an acidic solution that will prevent it from re-growing into the skin.

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