What causes an ingrown toenail and how can it be treated?

An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the nail grows down into the side of the skin.  The area becomes very sensitive to the touch and can be very painful.  The area becomes red, inflamed, and in some cases some pus can be present.

There are a number of factors that can cause an ingrown nail.  These consist of improper cutting of the nail, tight fitting footwear, ripping of the nail instead of cutting, etc.  The most common toe affected by ingrown toenails is the great toe; however the smaller toes can also develop ingrown toenails.  When the corners of the toenails are cut too short or left too sharp, they can grow downwards into the skin.  Some people are born with toenails that are curved downward and grow into the skin.  Stubbing your toes or other injuries can also result in ingrown toenails.

There are various treatment options available for ingrown toenails.  If the problem is not chronic, regular treatment by a chiropodist can help prevent infections and a chiropodist can cut the nails properly preventing any further damage.  If the problem is chronic and the ingrown toenail(s) are continuously infected, there are more permanent solutions that can be done.  Firstly, antibiotics can be prescribed to fight off any infection that is present.  A minor surgical procedure can then be completed that removes the offending nail piece and a chemical is applied to ensure that the nail does not grow back.  This procedure is called a partial nail avulsion.  A total nail avulsion, which is removal of the whole nail, can also be done.  The type of procedure that is utilized depends on the severity of the ingrown nail and the patient’s preference.

If you are suffering from an ingrown toenail or for more information or to arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot & Orthotics at one of our two locations: 519-623-3000 in Cambridge or 905-878-6479 in Milton. You can also visit us at www.ontariofoot.ca.