Ingrown toenails, where the toenail begins to grow into the skin surrounding it, often begin as nothing but a nuisance. Unfortunately, they can lead to infection if not properly treated.
Ingrown toenails are common, and can be caused by everything from trauma to genetic factors. However nice a rounded edge on your toenails might look for sandal season, cutting your toenail in this way a little aggressively can encourage your nail to grow into the flesh of your toe.
Ingrown toenails are characterized by pain, swelling, redness and a feeling of warmth in the affected toe. If the nail digs into the flesh around the nail and causes the skin to break, bacteria can enter, resulting in an infection. The infection can increase the level of pain in the toe and create additional problems.
You should see your Podiatrist at the first sign of an ingrown toenail. Whatever you do, do not attempt to cut the nail free your own! This can worsen the infection, or create one where there wasn’t one before.
Oral or topical antibiotics may simply resolve the infection temporarily as the infection is caused by the nail piercing into the flesh. In some cases antibiotics simply are not enough. The offending piece of nail must be removed through a minor surgical procedure using a local anesthetic.