Wearing closed shoes and tight stockings encourage the formation of painful ingrown nails. If you trim your toenails too short, particularly on the sides of your big toes, you may create an ingrown nail.
It is important not to taper with the corners of the nails as when you cut the corners to curve with the sides of the toe, you encourage the nail to dig into your skin. Other causes of ingrown nails are congenital deformities when the nail is actually too large for the toe and trauma such as stubbing the toe or having the toe stepped on. At first an ingrown nail may be hard, swollen and tender.
If left unattended it may get red and infected and feel very sore. Any toenail can become ingrown, but the problem most often affects the big toe. It is important to seek professional attention if the toe appears red, swollen or is very painful. Self-treatment can result in serious infection. Professional treatment includes the removal of the offending portion of nail and application of local antibiotics.
If the infection is serious, oral antibiotics may be indicated. When an ingrown nail becomes recurrent, the doctor may recommend a surgical procedure in which the matrix cells (the cells producing the portion of the nail that is ingrown) are removed and chemically cauterized to prevent their regrowth. This procedure can be performed in such a way that the nail itself is not damaged and appears normal post operatively.
Removing the entire nail plate increases the likelihood that the nail will grow back deformed. At Livingston Foot Care Specialists we are very aware of the importance of the cosmetic result. Unless the ingrown nail is congenital, the best way to prevent ingrown toenails is to protect the feet from trauma and to wear shoes and socks with adequate room for the toes. Nails should be cut straight across with a clean, sharp nail trimmer without tapering or rounding the corners. Trim the nails no shorter than the edge of the toe.
Remember to seek professional attention if redness or tenderness occurs. The doctors at Livingston Foot Care Specialists are available to treat this painful condition.