Getting a bit overzealous trimming your toenails can lead to the unpleasantness of an impacted or ingrown toenail (onychocryptosis), which occurs when the edge of the nail grows directly into the surrounding tissue of the toe, causing pain and discomfort.
Ingrown toenails often occur when toenails are improperly trimmed, leaving the nail plate too far from its proper edge. This tender skin becomes inflamed, and pressure on the toe from shoes becomes painful.
Other causes include:
- Injury, such as stubbing a toe or having a toe stepped on.
- Ill-fitting shoes that put pressure on the inside edge of the
- Running and the accompanying pounding and pressure
on toes from shoes that are too short.
- Bed sheets tucked too tightly around toes.
You can first spot an ingrown toenail directly after trimming your toenails. If the toenail looks like it has been cut back too far, exposing the pink tissue around the edge, you may have an ingrown toenail. Over time, you may develop a feeling of discomfort and tenderness, and the tissue around the edge may become red and swollen. As the ingrown toenail continues to grow into the surrounding tissue, pain becomes more pronounced, making walking and even sitting difficult.
People suffering from an ingrown toenail may also notice the following:
- The nail will not "grow out" on its own to correct the situation.
- Trimming the nail back as it grows becomes
difficult and painful.
- Contact with shoes and socks can cause intense soreness
in the spot where you have the ingrown toenail.
The simplest way to eliminate an ingrown toenail is to take extra care when cutting your toenails:
- Keep toenails short – slightly longer than the tips of your toes.
- Pay attention to the natural line of the nail, and trim toenails carefully, straight across, with specially designed toenail clippers.
- Make sure you do not gouge into the corners of your toenails when cutting.
Also try following these suggestions to take care of an ingrown toenail, or to avoid developing one in the future:
- Use a proper toenail clipper to avoid slipups and mishaps.
- Never dig down into the corners of the nail.
- Wear appropriate fitting shoes with plenty of room in the
toe box (especially if you already have an ingrown toenail).
- Soak affected feet to keep them clean and antiseptic.
- Apply a mild antiseptic.
Remember: Don't make ingrown toenails worse in an attempt to make them better. As the nail begins to cut into the skin, many people try to correct the situation by cutting away the extended nail; yet this only exacerbates the situation, leading to even deeper imbedding of the ingrown toenail into the tender flesh. "Bathroom surgery" is definitely not the way to correct an ingrown toenail.
If the problem persists, see a podiatrist to have the offending edges removed.
This information on foot, leg and lower body health conditions is provided by The Podiatry Institute, dedicated to advancing the standard of care in podiatric medicine and its effects on musculoskeletal health. The Podiatry Institute does not endorse a specific treatment, product, or therapy. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your health care provider on all matters relating to this or any other condition that may affect your health.