Ingrown Nails: A pain in the….toe!
Onychocryptosis, or more simply an ingrown nail is a very common nail disorder that can cause a lot of pain. This nail disorder is caused when an offending nail border, or both grow incurvated into the soft tissue of your nails causing intense pain, redness and swelling of the soft tissue of most commonly your big toe. A lot of times patients think they can just cut the painful incurvated nail away and the pain will go away. 9 times out of 10 this can just make the problem more severe. At any time you think you have an ingrown nail it is best to see a podiatrist for this painful problem. If not treated, this disorder can result in an infection called a paronychia, an acute infection around the soft tissues around the nail.
Symptoms of an ingrown nail include pain along the margins of the nail (caused by hypergranulation that occurs around the aforementioned region), worsening of pain when wearing tight footwear, and sensitivity to pressure of any kind, even the weight of bedsheets. Bumping of an affected toe can produce sharp, even excruciating, pain as the tissue is punctured further by the nail. By the very nature of the condition, ingrown nails become easily infected unless special care is taken to treat the condition early on and keep the area clean. Signs of infection include redness and swelling of the area around the nail, drainage of pus, and watery discharge tinged with blood. The main symptom is swelling at the base of the nail on the side the nail is ingrowing (may be both sides).
The main cause of onychocryptosis is unsuitable footwear, including shoes with inadequate toe-box room and tight stockings that apply top and or side pressures. Less frequent causes include the damp atmosphere of enclosed shoes, softening the nail-plate and swelling the epididymis keratin, which eventually increases the convex arch permanently; genetics; and trauma and disease. Improper cutting may cause the nail to cut into the side-fold skin from growth and impact, whether or not the nail is “ingrown” (true onychocryptosis). The nail bends inwards or upwards depending on the angle of its cut. If the cutting tool, such as scissors, is in an attitude where the lower blade is closer to the toe than the upper blade, which will cause the toenail to grow from its base upwards, and vice versa. The process is visible along the nail as it grows, appearing as a warp advancing to the end of the nail. The upper corners turn more easily than the center of the nail tip. As people cut their nails by holding the tool always in the same angle, they induce these conditions by accident; as the nail turns closer to the skin, it becomes harder to fit the lower blade in the right attitude under the nail. When cutting a nail, it is not just the correct angle that is important, but also how short it is cut. A shorter cut will bend the nail more, unless the cut is even on both top and bottom of the nail.
The best thing you can do if you are suffering from an ingrown nail is too go in and see your podiatrist. Many times I have seen patients try and cut out the incurvated nail themselves with much pain and often exacerbating the symptoms. Your podiatric physician will immediately take care of the toenail in a quick and often pain-free office procedure. So call us at Aloha Foot and Ankle and make an appointment today!