you trim your toenails too short, particularly on the sides of
your big toes, you may set the stage for an ingrown toenail,
a common disorder. Like many people, when you trim your toenails,
you may taper the corners so that the nail curves with the shape
of your toe. But this technique may encourage your toenail to
grow into the skin of your toe. The sides of the nail curl down
and dig into your skin. An ingrown toenail may also happen if
you wear shoes that are too tight or too short. Any of your toenails
can get ingrown, but it's most likely with your big toes.
When you first have an ingrown toenail, it may be hard, swollen
and tender. Later, it may get red and infected, and feel very
sore. You may see pus drain from it. Finally, your skin may start
to grow over the ingrown toenail.
To treat an infected ingrown toenail, soak your foot in warm,
soapy water several times each day. You may need to gently lift
the edge of the ingrown toenail from its embedded position and
insert some cotton or waxed dental floss between the nail and
your skin. Change this packing every day. If your infection is
severe, your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics. Learn
how to trim your toenails properly. Wear clean socks and open-toed
shoes, such as sandals.
If you are in a lot of pain and/or the infection keeps coming
back, I may remove part of your ingrown toenail (partial
nail plate avulsion). Your toe is injected with an anesthetic
and your doctor uses scissors to cut away the ingrown part of
the toenail, taking care not to disturb the nail bed. An exposed
nail bed may be very painful. Removing your whole ingrown toenail
(complete nail plate avulsion) increases the likelihood your
toenail will come back deformed. It may take 3-4 months for your
nail to re-grow.
Ingrown toenails often recur. If you have a chronic problem
with an ingrown toenail, your doctor may recommend another surgical
procedure in which the toenail's formative part is permanently
You can lower your risk of developing an ingrown toenail by
trimming your toenails straight across with no rounded corners.
The length of your toenail should extend out past your skin.
The top of each nail should form a straight line across, level
with the top of your toe. Some additional guidelines for preventing
ingrown toenails include:
Don't pick at your toenails or tear them off.
Make sure your shoes and socks are not too tight.
Keep your feet clean at all times.