Had there been a time in your life that you had to cry over the smallest growth of nail in between the toenail and the toe’s side? If yes, then you also share the same complaint most women have with their toes. And yes, I am talking about the ingrown toenails.
What causes ingrown toenails?
There are a lot of different risk factors that contributes to the development of the ingrown toenails. On the side of every toe nail is a soft tissue cushioning the edges of the nail and the side of the toe. At times, there are abnormalities on this soft tissue.The most common is brought about by wearing of too tight fitting closed shoes. These types of shoes promotes overcrowding of the toes thereby pushing this soft tissue against the side or the edge of the toe nail.
As a result, certain inflammation, then hardening of the soft tissue follows causing a discomfort to the side of the toe and promoting the development of the ingrown nails. Another most common cause of the development of ingrown toenail is the improper cutting of the nail including cutting the lateral edges of it too short. As a result, the nail edge grows more laterally pushing to soft tissue on the side. This condition may look swollen, painful, or perceived to be quite “itchy” as a sensation of unwanted discomfort, and prone to toe infections.
The three stages of ingrown toenails
- Stage I- the first stage is the early stage of ingrown tow nails characterized by minimal inflammation of the soft tissue on the side of the nail.There may be pain, and slight redness but there is no presence of infection or pus.
- Stage II- the second stage of of ingrown toenails is characterized all the attributes of the Stage I plus the presence of pus, as a sign of bacterial infection. The swelling and pain is heightened at this stage and the skin on the side of the toenail looks red.
- Stage III- the stage three is the latent stage. Here, the soft tissue has been infected for a longer period of time. The appearance can still have pustular drainage and looks red as it bleeds easily. There may be some inflammation and some granulating tissue on the side of the toenail as a sign of attempts of healing.
Prevention and Treatment of Ingrown Toenails
So as to prevent having an ingrown toenail, use an appropriate shoe that fits the toes not too tightly. Do not cut the sides of the toenails too short and too deep as well. For those who are in the stage I of ingrown toenail, usually warm soaks, toe elevation using a cotton swab will relieve the discomfort. This may resolve in a a couple of weeks. Those in the stage two may require the help of a podiatrist or a doctor.
An oral antibiotic and some topical cleansing agent for the soft tissue infection may be given. One good cleansing agent for this is to use Hydrogen Peroxide after a warm foot soak. Should this not resolve and improve even after the said regimen, then the doctor may advise the patient to have the toenail removed, under a local anesthesia. This will prevent the infection from spreading, provide comfort and resolution to the ingrown nails, and promote healing of the tissue.