An ingrown toenail (onychocryptosis) occurs when the nail grows sideways into the toe, and not outward. The result is pain in the side of the toe and possible bacterial infection. The big toe is most commonly affected. It can be caused by any situation that interferes with the proper outward growth of the nail, such as improper trimming of the nail or incorrect footwear, or distortion of the nail.
The diagnosis of an ingrown toenail can be made on the basis of the appearance of the toe. A history is also obtained to determine the cause of the ingrown toenail, and to address any predisposing conditions.
In acute cases, the offending corner of the nail can simply be cut to remove the ingrowing piece or nail spike, alleviating the pain and allowing the nail to grow out normally.
Many cases require surgical treatment removing a small part of the nail permanently. This is done under local anaesthetic in the rooms.
The nail may continue to grow into the side of the toe, causing pain or recurring infection. This can cause complications in people with underlying medical problems such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease.