What’s Behind Ingrown Toenails?

Ingrown toenails (officially known as onychocryptosis), a condition we see frequently at Superior Foot & Ankle Center, are painful and potentially can lead to an infection. They occur when the side of a nail begins to grow back into the skin and are seen most often on the big toe. As the nail becomes ingrown the skin around it usually becomes inflamed, red, warm and very tender to the touch. Once the nail actually breaks through the skin, bacteria have an entry point and an infection may occur.

Causes

There are several factors that can make an ingrown nail more likely. Some are preventable but others are not. Common causes include:

  • Poor nail trimming—this is the most common reason ingrown nails develop. If nails are shaped so that they curve on the sides or if they are trimmed too short, the skin may fold over the corner of the nail and the nail will begin to grow inward.
  • Heredity—for some people ingrown nails are a genetic tendency.
  • Shoes and socks that don’t fit—if you wear footwear that is too tight or spend a considerable amount of time in high heels that force all your toes together in the front of the shoe, the pressure may push the nail into the skin.
  • Overuse or trauma—patients who run or play sports that involve frequent kicking are more likely to develop ingrown toenails. Dropping a heavy object on your toe or severely stubbing it can also be a catalyst.
  • Nail problems—a fungal or bacterial infection or nail deformity can be a cause.

Treatment

If you have an ingrown toenail that soaking in warm water isn’t releasing, contact our Long Beach office by calling: (562) 420-9800 and let our podiatrists, Dr. Victoria Foley and Dr. Constance Omelas help you eliminate this painful condition. Don’t attempt “bathroom surgery” on an ingrown nail! Notching, sticking cotton under the nail and other “home remedies” not only are ineffective, but they can result in a more serious injury and infection.