This is a question that we frequently hear at New England Foot & Ankle Specialists. The answer is yes and no. An ingrown toenail is one that has started growing down and into the skin that surrounds the nail. There are several possible causes of ingrown toenails:
- Improper cutting: If toenails are cut too short or with rounded edges, the skin will be more prone to fold over the nail and cause it to start to grow into the skin.
- Heredity: For some people, the tendency to ingrown toenails is genetic.
- Footwear choices: Wearing shoes and socks that are too tight in the toe area can squeeze and put pressure on the toenail, causing it to start to grow inward
- Trauma: A heavy object falling on a toe or another injury can eventually lead to an ingrown toenail.
- Nail Conditions: Some nail disorders, such as fungal nails can also increase the likelihood of an ingrown toenail.
The most common of all these causes is improper toenail cutting, which is something you can avoid. Similarly, you can pick footwear that doesn’t cramp your toes. These are a few steps you can take to prevent ingrown toenails.
Treatment of Ingrown Toenails
In some cases, ingrown toenails will go away on their own. Soaking the affected foot in warm, soapy water several times a day may help the nail to get free of the skin. Do not attempt any “bathroom surgeries,” however. If soaking does not seem to help, and especially if you notice drainage from the toe or other signs of infection, make an appointment at our Reading office as soon as possible. One of our podiatrists: Dr. George A. Abboud, Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, Dr. Carl Conui, or Dr. Kimberly Thurmond will want to examine your toe and determine the best way to rid you of the ingrown nail. In severe cases, a minor surgical procedure can be done to remove part of the nail.