What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

Ingrown toenails occur for a variety of reasons. They are very common and almost everyone may develop an ingrown toenail at least once in their life. While an ingrown toenail is not fatal, it can cause extreme discomfort and diminish your quality of life due to its effect on simple activities like walking or hiking.

What is an Ingrown Toenail?

An ingrown toenail is a toenail that has grown into the skin around the toenail. Instead of growing on the surface of the toe’s nail bed, the toenail grows into the skin tissue. Specifically, the edges of the toenail curl down and into the skin. You can visually see an ingrown toenail, as it looks very different than the rest of the toenails.

What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

Ingrown toenails happen slowly, over time. Most people don’t pay a lot of attention to toenails until it’s time to clip them. That may be after four to six weeks after the last time you clipped your toenails. By that time, a toenail may have ingrown or grown into the surrounding skin tissue.

Most frequently, an ingrown toenail is caused by improper clipping practices. If you taper your nails so that they curve along the top edges, then that top edge may end up growing downward, into the skin.

Another common cause of ingrown toenails is wearing shoes that are too tight or that squeeze the toes into unnatural positions. This can lead to ingrown toenails since the toenails are unable to grow into the area that they are meant to.

Finally, some people are more prone to developing ingrown toenails. If you have a history of ingrown toenails, you should visit your podiatrist to learn about preventative measures.

Symptoms of an Ingrown Toenail

The symptoms of an ingrown toenail are:

  • Discomfort
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • A portion of toenail not visible

If you have the symptoms of an ingrown toenail, make sure you visit your podiatrist as soon as possible. If you don’t treat an ingrown toenail, a resulting infection can become more serious and more complicated to treat.

Don’t ignore an ingrown toenail. Treatment for ingrown toenails is available and relatively easy. The longer you wait, the more complex the situation will become. For more information and help, please contact your Austin podiatrist today.