Ingrown Toenails

When a toenail is ingrown, it is curved and grows into the skin, usually at the nail borders (the sides of the nail). This “digging in” of the nail irritates the skin often creating pain, redness, swelling and warmth in the toe. If an ingrown nail causes a break in the skin, bacteria may enter and cause an infection in the area, which is often marked by drainage and foul odor. However, even if the toe isn’t painful, red, swollen or warm, a nail that curves downward into the skin can progress to an infection.

The symptoms of ingrown toenails include:

• Pain at the border of the nail
• Redness, swelling, heat and draining when an infection is present

What causes an Ingrown Toenail?

Causes of ingrown toenails include:

• In many people, the tendency for ingrown toenails is inherited
• Sometimes an ingrown toenail is the result of trauma, such as stubbing your toe, having an object fall on your toe, or engaging in actives that involve repeated pressure on the toes, such as kicking or running
• Improper trimming. Trimming nails to short encourages the skin next to the nail to fold over the nail
• Improperly sized footwear. Ingrown toenails can result from wearing socks and shoes that are tight or short
• Other Nail Conditions. ingrown toenails can be caused by nail problems, such as fungal infections or losing a nail due to trauma

Bone deformities of the toes, such as bone spurs, can cause a change in the shape of toe nails leading to incurvation and infection.