Ingrown Toenail

Why did I get an ingrown toenail?

Maintaining your toes isn’t just important for making them look good, it’s also essential for your hygiene. You need to keep your toenails trimmed to:

  • Help your shoes fit properly
  • Prevent your nails from cutting into your skin
  • Prevent infection

But when you cut them too short, or round off the edges with a file, the nail can slowly start growing into your skin. Sometimes an ingrown toenail happens when you regularly wear shoes or socks that don’t fit properly. If they’re too tight, for instance, they can actually press your toenail into the skin. As your nail continues to grow, it’ll keep growing into your skin.

Injuring your toe -- for example, if you stub your toe on a coffee table -- can sometimes lead to an ingrown toenail. Athletes, particularly those who have to kick balls, are prone to nail injuries, which can lead to ingrown toenails.

How do I know if I have an ingrown toenail?

Most men and women who come in to see Dr. Hurst for an ingrown toenail complain of severe toe pain. Since your nail grows into your skin, instead of over it, it can eventually become infected, too. Not only will you be in pain if this happens, you’ll notice swelling and redness around your toenail. As the infection worsens, the area could start leaking fluid and pus. At this point, you most likely need medical treatment.

What is the treatment for an ingrown toenail?

Once your toenail becomes severely ingrown, Dr. Hurst will probably need to do a minor in-office procedure to correct it. He’ll start by numbing your toe with a small injection. Once you can’t feel your toe, he’ll cut the edge of your problem nail and pull out the entire ingrown piece. While your nail might be a strange shape for a few weeks, it’ll grow back.

If this particular nail is prone to ingrown toenails, Dr. Hurst may destroy some (or all) of your nail root (called an ablation). Your nail probably won’t grow back if Dr. Hurst has to destroy the entire root.