An ingrown toenail is a painful condition of the toe that is caused by the curved nail edge growing into the skin of the toe. As soon as the edge of the nail enters the skin, it becomes inflamed and painful. As the area swells and the skin thickens, the pain can become severe, making it difficult to wear shoes or carry out normal activities. One of the dangers of ignoring an ingrown toenail is the possibility of an infection or abscess, which would require surgery to correct.
Ingrown toenails are most common among men, especially those who are physically active. The most frequently cited causes are: fungal infection of the nail, wearing shoes with a tight toe box, trauma to the nail, improper nail trimming, and hereditary factors. Individuals can remove some of these risk factors by trimming nails correctly (straight across…not curved, not too short) and wearing shoes with enough space in the toe area to avoid excess compression.
The most effective treatments for ingrown toenails involve removing all or a portion of the nail, in order to allow the site to heal as the nail grows back.