Contrary to popular belief, ingrown nails don’t grow in ; the reality is that the flesh around the nail is forced so close against the side of the nail that it seems to be growing into the flesh.
Initial signs that there may be a problem are:
As this condition progresses, the area may become red, swollen, and tender. Eventually the nail may penetrate through the flesh and develop into a medical emergency. The toe at this point may become infected producing foul smell or pus.
The most common toe affected by this condition is the great toe, but could be found in any toe on either foot. Often this is caused by pointy shoes; the sides of the shoes cause pressure on the sides of the nail which in daily use can force the nail plate down towards flesh. Other typical causes are wearing shoes that are too short, tight hosiery or injury. Another common cause is poor nail cutting. Typically, people will cut down the sides of the nail to reduce the pressure. This is only a temporary fix and if a sharp edge is left, the nail may penetrate into the skin as it grows forward.
So, what can be done to help prevent or improve this condition?
Proper nail cutting is key prevention. Cutting the nails straight across and using an emery board to round the edges is a good way to keep the nails less offensive to the surrounding skin
Wear proper fitting shoes that fit right, allowing for your toes to move and complement the shape of your foot.
Avoid wearing tight fitting hose or socks.
There are vitamins available that will help strengthen as well as beautify your nails.
If you are a diabetic, or concerned that you may have or are developing an ingrown toenail, see a podiatrist. Most conditions can be easily corrected at chair side, usually the same day, allowing you to return to your normal footwear immediately.