Ingrown toenails are nails that grow into the skin instead of on top of it. While they can occur on any toe, they most frequently occur on the big toe. Ingrown toenails are typically very painful, with pain increasing when wearing shoes, walking, or otherwise placing pressure on the foot and the toes.
One of the most common causes of ingrown toenails is improper nail trimming. Toenails should always be cut straight across and not curved to the shape of the toe to prevent the edges of the nail from burrowing into the skin. Other common causes include wearing poorly fitting shoes, especially those that fit very tightly around the toe area, like pointy toed shoes. Men and women with thick nails or nails that tend to curve inward are also at an increased risk of developing ingrown toenails. Over time, the area around the nail can become infected if not treated. People with diabetes or other diseases of the circulatory system, as well as people who experience numb feet, need to be especially careful with ingrown toenails, since they can become infected without the person being aware of it.
Mildly ingrown nails may be treated with application of a small piece of gauze between the nail and the nail bed to encourage the nail to grow properly. If an infection is present, antibiotics may also be prescribed. However, The most common form of treatment involves injecting a numbing anesthetic into the toe and then removing the portion of the nail that has become ingrown. Once the nail portion is removed, a special chemical is applied to prevent the ingrown portion from regrowing. The procedure requires no incisions or stitches, and patients typically continue to wear their normal shoes as the area heals. When infection is present, Dr. Patel will prescribe antibiotics to prevent it from spreading. More severe cases may require removal of the entire nail to allow the area to heal and to help treat any existing infection.
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