Ingrown toenail

Ingrown toenail: Description, Causes and Risk Factors: Ingrown toenails are a common painful condition that occurs when skin on one or both sides of a nail grows over the edges of the nail, or when the nail itself grows into the skin. Ingrown toenailNormal healthy nails appear clear where they are not adhered to the skin and pink where they are attached to the skin. The surface of the nail plate is smooth and thin (about 1 mm) with only a mild curvature at the sides. Nails are composed of a substance called keratin (Collective name for a group of proteins that form the intermediate filaments in epithelial cells) and hair, only harder because of less water content within the nail. They are a hard, resilient structure whose main function is to protect the blood vessels, nerves and bones underneath. Toenails grow from an area, called the matrix, which lies underneath the cuticle. Any disturbance to this matrix may cause nails to grow abnormally; rather than being smooth and flat, they may project upward, grow with lines, grooves, pits, discoloration, or thickening. Because the toenails grow slowly, about 0.05-mm/day, growing a new toenail can take 3 to 9 months. There are several factors that can lead to an ingrown toenail. Two major causes for ingrown toenails are tightly fitting shoes and improperly trimmed nails. Shoes should have a wide toe box to allow room for the toes and avoid pressure on the sides of the nail. When cutting nails, avoid peeling or trimming nails down into the corners. Instead allow the nail to grow out from the toe and cut it straight across. In other cases an ingrown toenail is the result of trauma, such as stubbing your toe, having an object fall on your toe, or engaging in activities that involve repeated pressure on the toes such as kicking or running. There are three stages of ingrown toenails. In the first stage the skin on the either side of the nail is red and painful to touch. This is due to inflammation or irritation due to infection. In the second stage the skin is infected and may bulge over the side of the nail. The affected area may ooze clear fluid or pus. In the third stage the skin has been infected for a prolonged time and is trying to heal itself. The skin does this by forming granulations tissue. This is heaped up extra red tissue that bleeds easily and migrates over the nail edge. Cutting toenails properly goes a long way toward the prevention of ingrown toenails. Using a safety nail clipper or nail cutter, cut the nails straight across, so that the nail corner is visible. If you cut the nail too short, you are inviting the nail corner to grow in to skin. It is the natural tendency, when the edge of the nail starts to grow in, to cut down at an angle at the nail edge, to relieve the pain. This does relieve the pain temporarily, but it is also can start a downward spiral, training the nail to become more and more ingrown. Symptoms: Ingrown toenails are often very painful—the slightest pressure can aggravate the pain.The skinaround the nail may appear red and inflamed. The toe will not only be red and inflamed; it may feel warmand have bloody or purulent (puss-containing) drainage. If infection is present, if may also produce a foulodor. Diagnosis: An examination of the foot will show the following: Skin along the edge of the nail will appear to be growing over the nail, or the nail may seem to be growing underneath the skin. The skin may be swollen, firm, red, or tender to touch. At times, there may be a small amount of pus present. Tests or x-rays are usually not needed. Treatment: Ingrown toenails need to be treated immediately. In many cases people with uninfected can obtain relief with the following simple regimen.
  • Soak the feet in warm salt water. Dry them thoroughly with a clean towel. Apply a mild antiseptic solution to the area and bandage the toe. However, if you have diabetes, do not try to treat an ingrown toenail. Always call your caregiver first. Do not treat an ingrown nail without a caregiver's help if you have certain long-term health problems.
  • If your nail is infected or your ingrown nail keeps coming back, you may need surgery. Many types of surgeries can be done to treat an ingrown nail. Often, a podiatrist will cut and remove a small section from the side of your nail. Surgery may involve numbing the toe and removing a corner of the nail, a larger portion of the nail, or the entire nail. Various techniques may be used to destroy or remove the nail root. The treatment prevents the recurrence of an ingrown toenail. Your surgeon will determine the most appropriate procedure for you.
NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Reference and Source are from: DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.

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