An ingrown toenail is a common condition in which the nail grows into the skin at the borders of the nail. It usually affects the big toe, but others may be affected as well. This is a painful condition that can lead to infection of the nail bed.

Causes of ingrown toenail

Heredity

Some people may have a greater inherited tendency to develop ingrown toenails.

Trauma

Any injury to the toe like stubbing it or activities that involve repeated pressure on toes.

Improper trimming of toe nails:

This is the most common cause.

Improper footwear:

Too tight or too short shoes can cause ingrown toenails.

Symptoms of an ingrown toenail

The main symptom is pain or tenderness along the side of your nail. The digging in of the nail causes irritation in the skin and hence it becomes swollen and red. If the nail breaks the skin, bacteria may enter and cause infection in the surrounding area, which may then start draining pus. If the infection is left untreated, it can spread to the underlying bone and a serious bone infection.

Treatment of ingrown toenails

Initial treatment involves home remedies if you don’t have an infection. These include soaking your toes into water, using cotton to lift the side of the nail, and wearing comfortable shoes. If home remedies don’t work, your physician may recommend partially removing the nail through a minor surgical procedure. If an infection is present, an antibiotic should be prescribed first. The condition may recur, and is best prevented by cutting toenails properly and avoiding tight shoes.