Ingrown toenails (Onychocryptosis) are caused by ingrowths of edges of toenails into the skin, which exerts pressure causing inflammation. This disorder mostly affects the great (large) toes, but other toes can as well be affected. Sometimes it may develop as temporary infection, but when adjacent skin is affected can lead to a reoccurring problem. The possible signs and symptoms include; swelling, redness, and pain. If the condition becomes a serious infection, there’re signs of yellowish pus discharge. Ingrown toenail conditions mostly recover without medication. However, medical treatment is required when the condition becomes recurring infection that is accompanied by persistent pains.
The known major causes of ingrown toenails include; poorly trimmed toenails, hereditary condition, tight or loose shoe fitting, nail picking, and nail injuries. Other possible causes include poor feet hygiene, excessive feet sweating (hyperhidrosis), and arthritis among others. The ingrowths of nails into the skin allow microorganisms to invade the broken skin area. Moist and warm feet attracts bacteria and other related microorganisms, which cause infection on the toe area. This infection can result to serious consequences if remain untreated. Bacteria and fungi infections can get into deeper soft tissues, which may lead to bone infections too. The surrounding affected skin area hardens and thickens, leading to deformed toes.
In cases of temporary ingrown toenails, various home-treatments can relief the effects. For instance, soaking feet in vinegar water for about 15 minutes helps relief pains and redness. Another treatment can be done by feet-soaking into Epsom-dilute water for about 15 to 20 minutes; two table spoons of Epsom salts diluted in quart of water is used. Also, a-third teaspoon of Clorox when added into a gallon of water and feet soaked for 20 minutes relieves pains and swelling. Other home remedies include; taking anti-inflammatory drugs and proper trimming of toenails by ensuring edges are straight. However, if the signs and symptoms persist, an individual should seek medical attention from a Podiatrist. People with compromised immune system, or diabetic persons should seek medical treatment if home treatments are not successful within the first week.
There’re many medical specialists who can treat ingrown toenail problems. For instance, family physicians, dermatologists, and pediatricians can treat this condition. However, Podiatrists are highly recommended for these conditions. They’re highly qualified and specialized for treating such conditions. Surgical treatment is among the various treatments of ingrown toenail conditions. Surgery involves detaching the nail permanently, or destruction of nail matrix where the nail grows. This process of destroying the nail matrix can be done through surgical process, chemically, or electrically. Process of nail matrix destruction is referred to as matrixectomy in medical language. It involves destroying part, or all of the nail matrix tissues. However, matrixectomy is carried out in recurring or chronic situations.
Individuals can prevent ingrown toenails from recurring by avoiding improper shoe fittings. High tight shoes, for instance, put high pressure on toenails. Also, avoid loose shoes that allow the foot to move back-and-forth, or side-by-side. Inappropriate fitting shoes cause trauma and strain on the toenails. Individuals can practice proper trimming of toenails to prevent them from growing inwards into the skin. Clean tools should be used while trimming toenails, but nails should not be left too short.