Ingrown toenail treatment can usually be carried out effectively at home.
An ingrown toenail is a common cause of toe pain where the edges of the nail push into the surrounding skin causing pain, inflammation and sometimes bleeding. They usually affect the big toe.
The medical terms for it are an "Onychocryptosis" or "Unguis Incarnatus".
The most common ingrown toenail causes are wearing tight shoes, a foot injury, genetics or poor foot care and hygiene. The skin around the edge of the nail becomes inflamed and painful and there may be some bleeding.
Whilst ingrown toenail treatment is relatively simple, if it is not started quickly, it may become infected and in severe cases, surgery may be required.
Here, we will look at what an unguis incarnatus is, the common causes, symptoms and ingrown toenail treatment options as well as how to prevent them coming back.
An ingrown toenail develops when one or both of the curved side edges of the nail are pushed into the surrounding skin.
As the pressure increases, the nail pierces through the skin causing pain, inflammation, tenderness and redness. If bacteria enter through the cut in the skin, it may become infected.
A true onychocryptosis or unguis incarnatus is when the nail has actually cut into the skin, rather than just placing pressure on it.
The most common ingrown toenail causes are:
Ingrown toenails can affect anyone but are most common in teenagers, as their feet sweat more and in the elderly, as nails get more brittle with age.
In the early stages, an ingrown toenail causes only mild irritation. The toe may feel tender to touch and appear slightly red and swollen but symptoms gradually increase as the condition progresses. The most common symptoms of an unguis incarnatus are:
Symptoms tend to get gradually worse so it is important to start ingrown toenail treatment as soon as possible.
Ingrown toenail treatment can usually be carried out at home however, if there are signs of infection or your symptoms fail to settle, you should always consult your doctor. This is also the case if you suffer from diabetes.
There are two main options with ingrown toenail treatment:
A common question we are asked is "Can I treat an ingrown toenail myself?" In most cases the answer is yes! Ingrown toenail treatment can often be carried out easily and effectively at home using a combination of:
If these ingrown toenail home remedies fail to resolve the problem within a week, you will need to see your doctor or a podiatrist as you may have developed in an infected ingrown toenail. It may be that you require minor surgery as part of your ingrown toenail treatment.
There are two types of surgical ingrown toenail treatment commonly performed on an Unguis Incarnatus:
Partial nail avulsion ingrown toenail surgery is where part of the nail is removed, known as a wedge resection. The area is numbed with local anaesthetic and then one or both edges of the nail are trimmed. This makes the toenail narrower and gives it a straight edge, making it less likely to pierce the surrounding skin.
Any pus is also drained away from the ingrown toenail. A chemical such as phenol is used to prevent the nail re-growing. A wedge resection is a successful ingrown toenail treatment in approximately 98% of cases and takes approximately thirty minutes.
Total nail avulsion ingrown toenail surgery is where the entire nail is removed. Total nail avulsion is also carried out under local anaesthetic and is most commonly performed on people who suffer from repeated problems or failed to respond to other ingrown toenail treatment.
Surgical ingrown toenail treatment to remove all or part of a nail is known collectively as an "Onychecotomy".
Ingrown toenail surgery is usually carried out at your doctors (or podiatrists) surgery. The wound will be bandaged and you can go straight home. You may be given antibiotics to prevent the risk of infection and told to soak the foot to aid healing.
You may need to rest for 1-2 days keeping your foot elevated and walking to a minimum after an Onychecotomy. Often there is very little pain but in some instances the foot may feel sore so it is worth talking to your doctor about suitable painkillers following ingrown toenail surgery.
Ingrown toenails can last from a few days to several weeks depending on the severity of the condition.
With the correct ingrown toenail treatment, it typically takes 1-2 weeks for the nail to heal. During this time, it is important to keep the area clean and dry to promote healing. You may also need to apply antibiotic ointments or creams to the area or take medications to reduce any inflammation or discomfort around the toe.
The footwear you choose can have a big impact on your ingrown toenail treatment recovery. Wearing tight shoes and failing to reduce pressure on the affected area can exacerbate the issue and make it difficult for the nail to heal. Instead, opt of wide. cushioned, flat shoes to reduce pressure on the affected foot.
Prevention is always better than cure, and there are lots of things you can do to stop youself getting ingrown toenails and reduce the risk of suffering from an onychocryptosis:
Ingrown toenails are just one possible cause of pain and inflammation around the toes. If this isn't sounding quite like your problem, visit the Toe Pain section for help working out what might be wrong. Alternatively, if you want help working out what is causing more general foot pain, visit the foot pain diagnosis section.
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Whilst ingrown toenail treatment can usually be carried out at home, you should always get it checked by a healthcare professional to ensure there are no secondary problems, particularly if you suffer from Diabetes, or else you could make things worse.
Page Last Updated: 02/28/23
Next Review Due: 02/28/25