Ingrown Toenail

Ingrown toenail

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of ingrown toenail

A large percentage of the global population suffers from different types of foot problems. Poor hygiene conditions precipitate these diseases. A very common form of foot problem is “Ingrown Toenail”. It is common in people belonging to all age groups and genders. But young males have higher risks of developing ingrown toe-nails. In a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 75% of the population suffers from the problem of ingrown toe-nails in the United States alone. Ingrown toe-nail can give rise to a number of complications. Surgical excision becomes necessary in such cases.

What is an ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenailIngrown toenail is a medical condition in which the borders or the corners of the toenails curve downwards and dig into the toe-skin. It is also known as onychocryptosis or unguis incarnates. It causes pain, swelling and inflammation of the affected skin. In some cases, the ingrown toe-nail may create breaks in the skin. Granulation tissues are formed under such conditions. This may lead to bacterial or fungal infection in future. In more advanced stages, fluid-filled lesions may form accompanied by a foul smell from the affected toe. Ingrown toe-nail can occur in any of the toes. But it is commonly seen in the big toe. Incidences of ingrown toe-nails are more common in young males between the ages of 15-40. According to the reports of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, nearly 20% of the patients visiting the clinics for foot problems have ingrown toe-nails.

Common myths

There are a few myths related to ingrown toenails people need to be aware of-

  • Cutting the toenail in the form of a V can prevent ingrown toenails
  • Repeated trimming of the nail-borders can help prevent ingrown toenails
  • Cotton placed below the nail-bed can lessen the pain due to ingrown toenails

None of the above facts have a valid basis. Therefore people should have knowledge on the actual causes and consequences of ingrown toe-nails.

What causes ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails are precipitated by a number of factors. The most important ones are listed below-

  • The excess pressure created at the corners of the toe-nails due to poor-fitting footwear
  • Improper shaping and trimming of toenails (Eg: cutting toenails very short)
  • Thickening and abnormal growth of toenails due to existing foot problems like arthritis or nail-fungus
  • Mechanical injury to the toe
  • Repetitive trauma due to engagement in rigorous sports activities such as running or climbing on a regular basis (common in professional athletes)
  • Loss of nails due to pas infections
  • Excessive sweating of foot (Hyperhidrosis)
  • Poor foot hygiene (not cleaning foot regularly)
  • Occurrence of nail-fungus (Onychomycosis)
  • Abnormal shapes of the nail-folds and the nail-plates (wider nail-folds and thin nail-plates)
  • Familial history of ingrown toenails
  • Diseases like Diabetes and obesity
  • Diseases of the thyroid gland, renal tract or the cardiovascular system
  • Over-the-counter drugs like ciclosporin, isotretinoin and docetaxel
  • Using moist and dirty towels for cleaning foot
  • Nail injuries left exposed and untreated for a long time
  • Using harmful nail-cosmetics
  • Doing manicure and pedicure in unhygienic places
  • Repeating footwear for a long period of time

Symptoms of ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenail removalIngrown toenails are manifested through the following signs and symptoms-

  • Pointed edges of nails growing within the toe-skin
  • Pain, inflammation, and swelling of the affected skin
  • Yellowish or brownish nails
  • Reddish discoloration of the affected toe-skin
  • Itching and irritation of the toe
  • Tenderness and warmth of the toenails
  • Leathery texture of the adjoining toe-skin
  • Infection of underlying tissues
  • Formation of cracks in the adjoining skin
  • Formation of fluid-filled lesions in and around the ingrown toe-nail
  • Presence of yellowish or greenish pus below the nail or under the adjoining skin
  • Persistent throbbing pain that radiates to adjoining areas
  • Separation of nails from the nail-bed (rare)
  • Permanent nail-deformities
  • Presence of blood clots below the affected skin
  • Occasional bleeding from the ingrown toenail
  • Formation of rough and whitish flakes in and around the affected toe
  • Difficulty in normal movements such as walking, running, climbing

Get rid of this painful condition with these easy and safe DIY remedies.

Stages of formation of ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails develop progressively through a few distinct stages. These are described below-

  • Stage I: This is the early stage wherein the ingrown toenail has not yet formed properly. Erythema and oedema of the adjoining skin occurs, accompanied by a mild stinging pain. The pain is more prominent when pressure is applied to the toe-nails.
  • Stage II: Pain, oedema and erythema increase in intensity at this stage. Drainage of yellowish pus from the affected area is observed. This stage marks the beginning of Lateral nail-fold Hypertrophy.
  • Stage III: This is the most severe stage. It is characterized by the formation of granulation tissues that leads to bacterial infections. Excess pus is formed under the nails. 

Types of ingrown toenail

Ingrown toenail healingIngrown toe-nails are usually categorized into the following types-

  • Distal nail embedding: In this type of ingrown toenail, the nail growth is restricted due to the presence of a band of tissue at the edge of the nail. This tissue is called the hyponychium. It is usually a type of congenital deformity. It may also occur due to complete avulsion of the nail in the past.
  • Subcutaneous ingrown toenail: In this case, the toenail grows under the skin, causing pain and inflammation.
  • Hypertrophy of lateral nail-fold: In this condition, the skin tissue grows abnormally over the affected toe. Hence the toenail does not get enough space to grow outward and starts growing within the skin.
  • Pseudo ingrown toenail: This is usually observed in 2% of the new-borns. In this case, the nail plate is extremely short and seems to grow within the skin. This type is not painful.

Diagnosis

A culture of nail specimens may be recommended by a podiatrist. Punch biopsy and histology are also carried out in a few cases. The doctor will take into account your entire medical history before establishing the proper diagnosis and treatment method. In many cases, factors such as undiagnosed tumors or infections may be the reason. Trauma or injury could also be the reason.

Treatment and Prevention

There are a few home remedies that can help get relief from the symptoms. One of these includes soaking your feet in lukewarm water (with white vinegar and Epsom salt added to it).  Oral inflammatory medications may be prescribed by the doctor to treat the condition. It is important to keep the foot elevated. OTC anti-bacterial/ anti-fungal ointments are also helpful in getting rid of the infection caused due to an ingrown toenail. One can also get the nail trimmed with the help of a skilled podiatrist. In the most severe case, a surgery might be required.

In order to prevent ingrown toenails, one must always wear well-fitting and comfortable footwear. Make sure that your toes are not exposed to repetitive stress or trauma. Keep your feet clean and sanitized. Wear appropriate footwear for sports and physical exercises. Make sure you are not trimming your toenails in a curved manner, always trim them straight.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Wear well-fitted shoes and socks. Too tight footwear can lead to ingrown toenails. Shoes which are bigger in size can add more pressure on your toes.
  • Over-the-counter medication will only alleviate the pain; it will not cure the bacterial infection.
  • Keep your feet soaked in warm saline water (Epsom salt) to ward off the bacterial infection.
  • If you face the problem of ingrown-toenail more than 3 times in a year, consider getting that part of the nail permanently removed.
Don'ts
  • Don’t attempt to treat the ingrown toenail at home if you have diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, or circulation disorders.
  • Round the edges in the corner of the toenail and never cut the entire toenail in one-go. Keep chipping the nails in small portions.
  • Try to cut your nails curved and too short.

 

 

 

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Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
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Labiaplasty Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to modify the labia minora and the labia majora. Learn about who can…
Hemp Seeds: The actual science behind this controversial crop Inspite of being credited as a superfood, hemp seeds are still shrouded with layers of controversies. Are these…
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
cystoscopy
Cystoscopy Cystoscopy is a procedure to check the health of the urethra and the bladder. The procedure is also…
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CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test refers to the test that measures the number of RBCs, WBCs, etc…
Aphasia brain scans
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anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
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Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
cystatin C
Cystatin C Test Cystatin C is a specific single-chain protein that is found in body fluids and is a biomarker for…
Gynecomastia or male breast enlargement
Gynecomastia Gynecomastia is the enlargement of the male breasts. Learn about the treatment options, surgeries, and post-op care for…
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Nootropics: How safe are these drugs that make you smarter? Nootropics is a group of cognition-enhancing substances that facilitate better learning, memory, and other executive functions pertaining to…
Low carb diet
8 appetizing and mouth-watering recipes that every low-carb dieter should try Looking for delicious recipes that will fix your hunger pang without adding those pesky carbs? Look no further…
Cellphones and Human Brain
Cellphones and Human Brain – Are Cellphones a Slow Poison to Our Brains? Cellphones have become an intricate part of our lives but they can be highly addictive and overuse can…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
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Arthritis Profile Arthritis profile is a panel of primarily blood tests used to detect the presence of arthritis or check…
Splenda
Splenda Splenda is an artificial sweetener derived from Stevia plant extracts. It is low in calories and a popular…
cytomegalovirus igm test
Cytomegalo Virus (CMV) – IgM Test The CMV antibodies include both IgM and IgG antibodies which are the immune system's response to a CMV…
Urologist: When should you visit one and why? A urologist can treat not only genitourinary problems of both men and women but also can treat various…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
gallbladder diet tomato
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Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
Proteinuria and blood pressure
Hypertension Profile Hypertension profile is a panel of blood tests done to analyse the cause of hypertension or high blood…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
Salt dangers
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