An ingrown nail is a common nail disease in which the corner of the nail curves down into the skin. It could be painful and lead to skin infection. Most of the times the big toe is involved, but any toes can be affected. It is most common in teenagers and young adults, but ingrown toenails can also occur in babies or toddlers.
Al lot of reason can lead to ingrown nail. Using uncomfortable shoes, either too small or too large, repetitive trauma to the feet, poor nail care, feet or toes deformities, diabetes, obesity, fungal or bacterial infection, hyperhidrosis, congenital deformities of the nail or cutting the nail too short are the most important risk factors.
There are few rules that should be followed to prevent the ingrown nail disease:
- Cut the nails straight across, avoiding to cut too short at the sides. Keep the feet clean and dry
- Avoid tight shoes
- It is better to use cotton socks
- If there is a numbness in the feet, consult a specialist
- Pain along the margins of the nail
- Swelling and redness near the ingrown nail when it is infected
- Yellow or green pus secretion
- If the infection involve the skin and the subcutaneous tissue (cellulitis), it is possible to have fever
Conservative treatment: Mild clinical cases are treated conservatively with warm water, salt soaks, local cream (antibiotic) and use of advanced dressing. If after this treatment there is not improvement or if the ingrown toenail is severe, the surgical treatment should be performed.
Surgical treatment: it usually requires local anaesthesia. The surgical approach is the removal of the lateral part of the nail plate (it is called wedge resection). If there is recurrence after this treatment, the excision of the whole nail should be performed (it is called matrixectomy). It is a day care surgery.