Foot Care
Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail is a painful condition that occurs when the corner or side of a toenail digs into the skin of the toe. The nail irritates the soft tissue of the toe, causing pain, redness, and inflammation, and sometimes infection.

Treatment of ingrown toenails requires a visit to the podiatrist. If ingrown toenails become extremely painful, Dr. Siegel can remove the ingrown portion of the nail and, if necessary, prescribe antibiotics to address any infection.

Causes of ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails occur when the nail begins to grow into the skin of the toe, usually the big toe. There are a variety of factors that can lead to the development of an ingrown toenail, including the following:

Footwear - Shoes that are too small or too tight cause toes to compress together; this can result in abnormal nail development. 

Fungal infections - Fungal nail infections can cause nails to become thicker and curved, making an ingrown nail likely to develop. 

Bone Structure - If an extra piece of bone develops under the toenail, you are likely to develop an ingrown toenail. 

Injury - Any trauma or injury that damages the nail can lead to an ingrown toenail. 

Nail trimming - One of the most common causes of ingrown toenails is trimming nails too short or cutting them straight across.

Ingrown toenail symptoms

Ingrown toenails usually develop on the outer edge of the big toe; however, any toenail can become ingrown. Symptoms of an ingrown toenail include:

  • Drainage of a clear or yellowish fluid.
  • Extra skin growth around the corner of the nail. 
  • Pain, redness, and swelling along one or both sides of the toenail.

Drainage of pus may indicate that an infection has developed. It is important to see a podiatrist if the pain from the ingrown toenail becomes severe or if the infection seems to be growing.

Ingrown toenail treatment

When an ingrown toenail first develops, it must be treated by a podiatrist. While you await your appointment soak your foot daily in warm water and Epsom Salts. Avoid repeatedly trimming your toenail; this can actually cause ingrown toenails to worsen.

If pain persists or there are any signs of infection, let Dr. Siegel's office know immediately. When you see the doctor she may prescribe antibiotics and she may elevate and clean the ingrown portion of the nail. Depending on the severity of the ingrown toenail, the doctor may remove a narrow piece along the side of the nail.  This will usually grow back normally.

When ingrown toenails become a recurring problem, it may be necessary to remove part of the toenail permanently to prevent the nail from growing back malformed.