What is an ingrown nail?

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With an ingrown nail, your nail grows into the surrounding skin. This is most common on your big toe. You notice that the nail grows in because the skin next to your nails becomes irritated. The so-called nail wall becomes red, is sensitive and can swell. If the nail wall becomes infected, pus can also run out of the wound. Sounds gross! And quite painful, especially if you have to squeeze your feet in (too) narrow shoes. Fortunately, an ingrown toenail is easy to treat and you can wear those beautiful heels again in no time.

What is the cause of an ingrown toenail?

It is not always clear what causes an ingrown toenail. There are a few known possible causes that increase the chances of ingrown nails, such as:

  • Wear too tight shoes.
  • Trim your nail too short or not straight.
  • A nail that naturally grows crooked.
  • Bumping your toe hard on, for example, a table leg. 

Will an ingrown nail go away on its own?

Ingrown toenails do not usually go away on their own. In light cases sometimes yes, but unfortunately it is usually necessary to see the doctor. Until then, you can relieve the pain at home by wearing loose or open shoes.

When should you see a doctor?

Ingrown toenails almost never go away on their own. Therefore, do not wait too long and see the doctor or podiatrist (foot therapist) as early as possible. They can estimate the appropriate treatment for your sore toe. Sometimes it is enough to ‘adjust’ the growth of the nail by applying a cotton ball or bracket under the nail tip. In other cases, the doctor cuts away part of the nail and the nail root. Scary? No, the operation is simply performed under anesthesia.

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