What is an Ingrown Toenail?
An ingrown toenail, also known as Onychocryptosis, is a surprisingly common problem affecting all ages
but is more common in teenagers and younger adults.
This condition occurs when the side of the nail presses into the skin and punctures the flesh causing a wound that can make the toe become red, swollen, painful
and eventually infected, causing the toe to weep and bleed.
The most common toe to be affected is the big toe but any toe is susceptible.
- Poor nail cutting is a major cause of ingrown toenail. If the nail has been cut too short down the
side then there is an increased chance that a spike of nail can be left undetected which, as the nail grows forward, can dig into the skin.
- Trauma. Occasionally an ingrown toenail can occur as a result of damage to the toe by either
stubbing the toe or dropping something onto it. Sporting activities are a common cause of trauma such as football or kicking in martial arts.
- Poor foot function. The bone structure of your feet in
combination with the way your feet function when walking has a profound effect on the way your nails grow. With perfectly functioning feet and in the stepping off part of the walking cycle, one
should walk off from the end of the big toe. However if the foot pronates excessively i.e. flat foot then one is more likely to toe off from the side of the big toe. This puts
enormous strain and undue pressures on the toes causing the skin around the sides of the toes to press up against the nail. This and perhaps with poor nail cutting is also a major course of nails
becoming involuted or curling into the side of the toenail and consequently giving rise to ingrown toenails.
- Sweaty feet cause the skin to become more prone to all types of problems such as fungal infections,
but Onychocryptosis or ingrown toenails are much more likely to occur with this foot type.
- Home treatment - not recommended
- Visit to the clinic where the best treatment can be decided upon depending on the severity of the ingrown toenail.
1) Careful and gentle trimming away of the nail edge
2) Under local anasthesic given in the surgery by one of the
podiatrists, the nail can then be trimmed painlessly and dressed to help healing.
3) If treatment for the ingrown toenail is not improved by routine chiropody, where the
problem has become too well established ,then a surgical procedure will be recommended to permenantly remove the side of the nail that is curling down into the nail groove - the sulcus.
This procedure is performed after giving a local anaesthetic and is a permenant cure, giving a cosmetically pleasing result. Usually, the part of the nail that is removed is
that which was not visible anyway and so won't be missed. This procedure is called a Partial Nail Avulsion and is performed routinely in the clinic.