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Martin Foot & Ankle

Ingrown Toenails: Nails Grown Wrong

Ingrown toenailGetting pinched hurts. No one likes to have their skin squeezed and possibly damaged. Sometimes, however, it’s something you can’t help, like squishing your fingers in a door or dropping a heavy box on your foot. What if, however, the damage isn’t from outside trauma, but from your foot itself? Ingrown toenails pinch your digits quite painfully.

Curved Keratin

Your toenails are meant to grow straight outward from their matrix inside the toe, resting on the nail bed until it reaches the end of your digit. The edges are supposed to run straight along each side. Sometimes, however, an edge or corner will grow sideways, curling into the soft skin of your toe. This can pinch or even pierce the sensitive, fleshy part of your digit, causing ingrown toenails.

As the hard keratin tissue damages your skin over time, you experience increasing discomfort in the affected area. Your toe may appear red and swollen. If the ingrown spot becomes infected, you may notice an oozing pus or other discharge from the toe. The leaking substances may also have a slightly foul odor.

Nails grow inward for a variety of reasons. Pressure on the ends of the toes from poorly fitted shoes are a common culprit. Trauma to the nails can damage the tissue and change its shape. Cutting your nails too short, or clipping the edges, can also influence them to curve. However the problem originated, the condition will not improve unless it’s addressed—in fact, it will worsen if ignored.

Eliminating the Damage

The damaged portion of the nail will need to be treated for your toe to improve and feel better. Our team of podiatrists here at Martin Foot and Ankle will evaluate your nail to determine how severe your condition has become. We will check for infections and the underlying issues that may have resulted in your nail trouble. This will also help us advise you about the best treatments moving forward.

If the nail is barely ingrown, we may be able to lift the keratin tissue and help it grow straight. Stuffing a thin roll of cotton or a small splint under the offending edge may keep it from curling. If the nail has already grow in quite a bit, you may need a small procedure to excise that portion. Your toe will be numbed up and the damaged area cut away. If you suffer from repeatedly ingrown nails, you may need to have the whole nail removed and permanently stunted so that it can’t curl again.

Ingrown toenails are painful and can leave you vulnerable to infections. They damage gets worse the longer they’re allowed to grow. You don’t have to limp around with aching toes, however. With prompt care, you can eliminate the pain and prevent complications. Contact Martin Foot and Ankle's podiatry offices in Lancaster, Hanover, and York, PA, to schedule an appointment before the problem worsens. Fill out the online contact page or call (717) 757-3537 to reach us.