Ingrown toenail also called onychocryptosis is a condition in which the nail grows into one or both sides of the toe, cutting into the edges of the toe. As the nail grows and cuts into the sides of the toe called the paronychium it often becomes infected leading to a condition called paronychia.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of an ingrown nail include pain along the margins of the nail. Pain may be worsened by pressure from foot wear. As the condition progresses, pressure of any sort often produces sharp pain. Signs of infection include redness and swelling along the borders of the nail. There may be drainage or pus with blood from the sides of the toe. Most commonly the big toe is affected by an ingrown nail although any of the toes may be affected.


Causes of ingrown toenail include tight fitting foot wear or tight stockings that apply pressure to the top or sides of the nail. Improper cutting of the nails may also lead to an infgrown toenail caused the nail cutting into the sides of the toe as it regrows. Trauma to the nail such as from stubbing the toe or dropping an object on the toe can cause the nail or surround soft tissue to deform resulting in irregular growth of the nail in relation to the toe. Abnormally shaped nai b eds due to genetics or damage may also lead to an ingrown toenail.


Ingrown toenails may be avoided by cutting nails straight across. Avoiding footwear that is too tight or too small may also help prevent an ingrown nail from occurring. If a nail requires that a wedge be removed from the corner, it is recommended that this be done by a podiatrist.


In mild cases conservative treatment such as warm water soaks may help relieve symptoms. If there is infection or if conservative treatment is not effective, surgical treatment is advised.


Surgery initially involves partial or complete removal of the nail depending upon how much of the nail is affected. If it is a recurring condition a portion of the nail root or nail matrix as it is called may be removed by a process called partial matrixectomy which is intended to prevent regrowth of the ingrown portion of the nail. This may be done on both sides of the nail, if both are affected. If the entire nail is problematic and permanent removal is intended a total matrixectomy may be performed.




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