Ingrown toenails, also known as onychocryptosis, are usually caused by trimming toenails too short, particularly on the sides of the big toes. They may also be caused by injury, fungus infection, heredity, poor foot structure, or shoe pressure (from shoes that are too tight or short). Ingrown toenails occur when the corners or sides of the toenail dig into the skin, often causing infection – which can be very painful. Ingrown toenails start out calloused, delicate, and inflamed. Left untreated, they may become sore, red, and infected, and the skin may start to grow over the ingrown toenail.

In most cases, treating ingrown toenails is simple: soak the foot in warm, soapy water several times a day. Wearing tight shoes or socks should be avoided. When an infection is present a physician may prescribe antibiotics. Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medications. In severe cases, if an acute infection occurs, part of the ingrown toenail may be surgically removed. The procedure, also referred to as as partial nail plate avulsion, the procedure entails injecting the toe with an anesthetic and cutting out the ingrown part of the toenail.

Ingrown toenails can be prevented by:

  • Trimming toenails straight across with no rounded corners.
  • Ensuring that shoes and socks are not too tight.
  • Keeping feet clean at all times.