Infected Ingrown Toenail

Information On An Infected Ingrown Toenail

An infected ingrown toenail is a painful condition. It can happen when a person does not groom or trim the toenails correctly. Instead of snipping off the top of the nail, they cut the toenails to the curve of the nail. This trains the nail to grow outward and the problem starts when the nail grows into the skin. The skin surrounding the edge of the toenail overlaps around it and the toenail naturally starts to cut into the skin. If the sharp toenail edge is not removed, it will continue to cut into the skin and this can lead to an infected ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenails can also be caused by wearing shoes that are too restrictive and tight. This can cause the skin surrounding the toenail to overlap the edge of the nail. It is commonly thought that this only happens to the big toe but it can happen with any toenail.

In rare cases an ingrown toenail can be caused by a blunt trauma to the toenail area. The nail can be too large for the nail bed and this is a congenital defect. Accidents like the stubbing of a toe or other types of injuries can also cause ingrown toenails. But in most cases it is a result of not trimming the nail properly.

The symptoms of an infected ingrown toenail can vary. At first, you may only feel a slight pain surrounding the toenail. After the nail has had a period of time to penetrate the surrounding skin, the area may become more painful, red and swollen. If the problem isn’t corrected this can lead to an infection. The nail bed itself can turn a yellow to green color and there can also be drainage coming from the wound. This drainage can be clear fluid or it can be cloudy and contain pus. Bleeding can also occur and at this point, medical attention is needed to correct the problem.

If you are only experiencing a slight pain with an ingrown toenail, a doctor may recommend that you soak your foot in warm water a few times a day. In between these treatments, the foot should be kept dry. Wearing a more comfortable shoe like sandals, that allows the foot to get air circulation, should be worn everyday. You can also take aspirin or any other preferred pain medication to reduce the discomfort. It can help to try to gently lift the nail edge up and away from the skin. Use dental floss to separate the nail from the skin but never pull or tug on the nail. This should not be a painful procedure and if it is, you will probably need more medical attention.

For a severe infected ingrown toenail surgery might be needed. But before the surgery a doctor will prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection. When the infection has cleared up he will perform a wedge resection. The doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the area and cut away the nail that is embedded in the skin. If there is any pus or fluid left under the nail, he will drain the area. He may also use a solution that discourages the growth of the nail, making it impossible to become ingrown again. After this surgery, the doctor will again prescribe an antibiotic to prevent further infections from happening.  

In some cases, even the wedge resection will not help the sufferer. For these rare cases additional surgery will be needed to almost completely remove the nail from the nail bed. After surgery the nail will appear to be deformed but the nail will never become ingrown again.