An ingrown nail is the result of the nail growing into the skin that surrounds it. This usually occurs on either side of the big toe. Common causes include improper trimming, genetic nail deformities, injuries, fungal infections, and pressure.
Ingrown nails may cause pain at the tip of the toe or all the way to the base of the toe. The pain is often worse while walking. An ingrown nail may also lead to infection, inflammation, or a more serious condition. If it’s infected, you might see pus or redness.
To determine the extent of your problem, your podiatrist examines and possibly palpates (presses) the painful area. If other problems are suspected, blood tests, cultures, or x-rays may be done as well.
If the nail isn’t infected, your podiatrist may trim the corner of it to help relieve your symptoms. He or she may need to remove one side of your nail back to the cuticle. The base of the nail is then treated with a chemical to keep the ingrown part from growing back. Severe infections or ingrown nails may require antibiotics and temporary or permanent removal of a portion of the nail. To prevent pain, a local anesthetic may be used in these procedures. This treatment is usually done at your podiatrist’s office.