Ingrown toe nails are a common problem in Western society. The ingrown toenail occurs when the nail grows into the fleshy part of the toe and becomes embedded in it. The ingrown toe nail occurs slowly over time and can present with pain, redness, swelling and often an infection. For some unknown reason, ingrown toe nails are most common on the big toe.
The majority of individuals with ingrown toe nails usually never see a physician and take care of the problem themselves with home made remedy. Most individuals just dig away at the nail and try to either cut it or clip it. In most cases, both the toe and nail are in bad shape by the time it has come to medical attention.
The majority of individuals only come to the physician when the pain is severe or the nearby skin is infected.
Ingrown toe nails are a nuisance in the majority of individuals but in the diabetic, the condition can lead to spread of the infection, especially when the blood flow is compromised.
Signs and symptoms of an ingrown toenail include:
- Pain is a common feature of ingrown toe nail. The pain may be intense and one may not be able to walk or wear shoes comfortably
- Redness along side the nail is common.
- The entire side of the nail may be swollen and deformed
- Occasionally the skin may be infected
- Smell occurs when the infection is prolonged
- Fluid discharge occurs when the nail is infected
Causes of ingrown toe nails are:
- wearing tight constrictive shoes that cause the toes to be pressed tightly
- poor nail care and cutting the nails unevenly or too short
- trauma to the toe nail
- Unusually curved toenails
- Thickening of toenails occurs in the elderly and changes the angle of growth
- Leaving nails too long and wearing tight shoes
- Nails that grow with curve down