An ingrown toenail occurs when the side of the nail curls down and presses into your skin.
Ingrown nails can be caused by genetics, the recent injury to the toe from stubbing or jamming the toe, or trimming your toenails too short on the sides. Repeated stress from running can also cause an ingrown toenail. Wearing tight shoes may aggravate the condition.
When the nail starts growing into the skin, swelling and tenderness occur at the side of the toenail. As the condition progresses, the border between the nail and the skin may become red, more swollen, and infected. The skin may bleed. Sometimes pus comes out of the toe. The condition most commonly affects the big toe, but other nails may also become ingrown.
Home self-treatment includes soaking your foot in warm water for 15 minutes, three times per day, application of antibiotic cream, and wearing open-toed or wide shoes. Over the counter pain medication can be taken for pain. In-office treatment for ingrown nails is a minor surgical procedure consisting of numbing the toe, then surgically cutting away the part of the nail that’s growing into your skin.
In most cases, removing the offending border of the nail plate will resolve the condition and antibiotics are not necessary.
Left untreated, the condition can continue to be painful and infection can progress. If you have diabetes or peripheral vascular disease, this could lead to the death of tissue (gangrene) or an underlying bone infection.
A bandage is applied after the procedure. The toe will remain numb for most of the day of the procedure. Sometimes the toe is sore the night of the procedure, and taking an over the counter pain medication is adequate. Usually, the toe feels better the next day. You can generally return to your normal activities the next day, but swimming should be avoided for 2 weeks. A bandaid is applied with topical antibiotic medication for 2 weeks after the procedure.