Ingrown Toenail or Onychocryptosis

About Ingrown Toe Nail or Onychocryptosis

Ingrown toenails are a common toe condition where the side or the corner of the toenail starts to grow towards the soft flesh of the toe. This causes redness, pain, swelling; and could also result in an infection. The big toe is the most affected toe by an ingrown toenail or Onychocryptosis. Most of the times, the ingrown toenail can be taken care of at home. If the pain or discomfort is not relieved by home remedies, and if the pain is increasing, then you need to visit a doctor where certain measures will be undertaken to relieve the discomfort and avoid other complications of ingrown toenails or Onychocryptosis.

Ingrown Toenail or Onychocryptosis

Patients having medical conditions, such as diabetes, which causes decreased blood flow to the feet, are at an increased risk for complications from ingrown toenails or Onychocryptosis.

Causes for Ingrown Toenails or Onychocryptosis

  • Wearing tight, ill fitting shoes which crowd the toenails.
  • Trauma or injury to the toenail.
  • Cutting the toenails very short.
  • Not cutting the nails straight across.
  • Having long and curved toenails.

Signs & Symptoms of Ingrown Toenails or Onychocryptosis

  • Pain and tenderness is experienced on one or both the sides of the toe nail.
  • Swelling and redness is present around the toenail.
  • There may be an infection of the tissue surrounding the toenail.

Severe Symptoms of Ingrown Toenails or Onychocryptosis Include:

  • Acute discomfort and pain in the toe.
  • Presence of redness or pus which increases or spreads to the surrounding region.
  • Medical conditions like diabetes increases the risk of complications of ingrown toenail as it causes decreased blood circulation to the feet.

Investigations for Ingrown Toenails or Onychocryptosis

Diagnosis can be easily made based on the physical appearance and symptoms of the patient.

Treatment for Ingrown Toenails or Onychocryptosis

  • If there is slightly ingrown toe nail with only pain and redness without any pus, gently lifting the nail edge and keeping a cotton, splint or dental floss underneath helps in separating the nail from the overlying skin. It also helps in the growth of the nail above the edge of the skin. Other than this, the toe needs to be soaked and the material placed under the nail edge needs to be replaced daily.
  • Partial removal of the nail can be done for severe cases of ingrown toenail which has pain, redness and pus. The doctor will partially remove or trim the ingrown part of the nail. Before removing the nail, the doctor will give a local anesthetic to numb the toe.
  • If there is infection and recurrence of the same problem, then the affected nail and the underlying tissue is removed. The doctor can use laser, chemical or other methods to this end.
  • Oral or topical antibiotics can be recommended, particularly if there is infection or to prevent an infection.

Home Remedies for Ingrown Toenails or Onychocryptosis

  • Soaking the feet in warm water for about 15 minutes, four to five times a day, helps in reducing tenderness and swelling.
  • Placing a dental floss or cotton under the ingrown edge of the toenail helps with the nail growing above the edge of the skin.
  • Application of topical antibiotics on the affected region and bandaging it also helps.
  • Always wear comfortable fitting footwear, preferably sandals or open-toed shoes, till the toenail gets better.
  • OTC pain killers and NSAIDs, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen, helps in relieving pain, swelling and inflammation.

Prevention of Ingrown Toenails or Onychocryptosis

  • Try to trim your toenails straight across and do not curve them so that they match you nail shape. In case if you cannot trim your toenails straight across because of poor flow of the blood, then you need to visit a podiatrist to trim your nails regularly.
  • Never ever grow your toenails too long and keep them at a reasonable length, such that they are at the same level of the tips of your toes. 
  • Always wear proper fitting shoes and avoid tight footwear which pinch your toes or put pressure on the nails. 
  • Wearing footwear which protect your toenails help in preventing injury to the toenails.
  • Patients suffering from diabetes should check their feet on a daily basis to look for ingrown toenails and other foot problems.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 13, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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