The nail plate is made up of the same type of cells that makes up our skin, which is the largest organ of the human body. The most common problem with human toenails are when they become embedded in the surrounding skin, or nail fold. This is known as an ingrown toenail.
The surrounding skin and nail plate become red, swollen, and painful. If left untreated the infection can lead to pustular drainage and odor. Also, “proud flesh” can develop which is known medically as a granuloma. In the most severe neglected cases the insuing infection can lead to cellulitis, and even an infection of the underlying bone.
The most common causes of ingrown toenails include improper trimming or tearing of the toenail, direct injury, genetic irregularity, severe curvature of the nail plate, sports, improperly fit shoes, improper pedicures, and occasionally chemotherapy can lead to deformity of the nail plate and result in an ingrown toenail.
If the cardinal signs of infection – pain/ redness/ swelling/ local heat/ drainage – persist for more than 2 – 3 days then you should consult with a Podiatric Physician. Often debridement or trimming of the ingrown toenail may be all that is required to relieve your symptoms. In the more advanced cases, a local anesthetic will need to be administered in order to properly remove the offending portion of the ingrown toenail. Temporary or permanent removal of the offending nail border will be recommended by your Podiatric Physician.