Ingrown nails are one of the most common medical problems that most people experience at least once in their life. It usually affects the big toenail and causes pain, swelling, redness and infection if not treated in a timely manner. Other toenails or fingernails may also be affected if they are cut incorrectly.
What is an ingrown toenail?
Ingrown nail is a condition in which the nail grows inside the skin, not outside the tissues, accompanied by pain, sometimes preventing walking, normal activities, sleep, intense red, swollen, purulent secretions of the skin, accompanied by a fetid odor.
An ingrown toenail, known in medical terms as onychocryptosis, is an ingrown or improperly cut nail that grows sideways at the corners, puncturing the skin and causing inflammation with the risk of infection.
The role of the nail, which is made up of dense layers of keratin, is to protect the fingertips and prevent their injury. If not properly cared for, it can cause discomfort especially when walking and in extreme cases cause microbial infections. When the corners of the nail are not cut straight, to leave room for the nail to grow freely on the skin, as there is no room, it enters the flesh and grows there. People with diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood circulation in the lower limbs are at higher risk of developing this condition.
What are the reasons of ingrown toenail?
- The most common cause of ingrown nails is incorrect nail cutting. If they are cut too deep and round, the corners can no longer stop the surrounding tissue from growing on the nail, causing ingrown nails.
- Another reason is inadequate shoes that compress the toes and do not allow the skin to breathe, creating a favorable environment for the development of bacteria and infections.
- Excessive sweating, which is especially prone to teenagers and athletes, can cause periungual infections, which can lead to ingrown nails.
- As in the case of a local malformation, you may also experience ingrown nails due to genetic inheritance.
- After an unprofessional pedicure or poor hygiene.
Symptoms of ingrown toenail?
The first sign that your nail is about to cause trouble is swelling and hardening of the skin around the nail. Later, pain begins on both sides of the nail, especially when pressure is applied to it. If you are careful, you can keep the situation under control and remove excess tissue at the slightest sign of discomfort, or trim the corner of the nail correctly if the length allows. Ingrown toenails make their presence felt in advanced cases with the appearance of fungus, deformity in the finger or change in the color of the nail.
Treatment of ingrown toenail?
Surgical rupture of the nail can be partial or complete.
Before the affected part of the nail is removed, local anesthesia (topical anesthetic cream, followed by lidocaine injection) is applied, starting from the base of the finger to be nailed. After anesthesia, the patient no longer feels anything.
If the situation requires, some or all of the ingrown nail blade is removed and a concentrated phenol solution is applied to the nail matrix so that the new nail is narrower and no longer ingrown.
In this way, unlike other types of intervention, recurrences are reduced to zero. Bandage is done and on the 2nd day, it is absolutely necessary to come for control. Afterwards, dressing can be done at home, daily, in the local toilet, and antibiotic and proepithelial creams can be applied.
Check-ups are recommended every 1 month, then every 3 months.
It is recommended to limit activities that include walking on the first day, but then the patient can return to normal activity (without intense physical exercises, marathon, swimming pools, etc.).
However, the best course of action is prevention. To avoid ingrown nails, you should cut your nails correctly without the risk of infection and injury. It is equally important to use shoes that are suitable for the shape of your foot, that do not cause you pain and do not bother you at any time.
The nail, which is a part of the body, can easily be ignored and considered insignificant. However, if injured, it can cause severe pain and reduce quality of life. Ingrown toenails left untreated can lead to bone infection, ulceration, open sores, and loss of blood flow to the injured area.