When the hard toenail presses excessively against the soft skin on the edges of the nail there is often pain. Commonly the nail presses for extended periods of time and an infection, or paronychia develops. This toenail infection is usually very painful, develops pus, and causes the end of the toe to become red and swollen.
Probably 50% of ingrown toenails are caused by the patients themselves. Many people try to cut the corner from their toenails and either cut the skin, or leave a small point of nail which eventually grows into the flesh. This makes a simple problem more complicated. Nails should be cut flat across the top, and the corners should not be cut out. If you feel the need to cut the corners out, it should be done only by a podiatrist so a more serious problem does not develop.
Most drug store topical "cures" for ingrown toenails do not work. They may soften the nail edge or help the soreness for a short period of time, but they do not cure the problem. The source of the problem is present under the cuticle at the nail root.
The cure for an ingrown toenail usually involves numbing the toe with a local anesthetic such a lidocaine or novocaine. The toe will be completely numb by the anesthetic, and there will absolutely no pain during the procedure. Then approximately an 1/8 inch section of the nail plate will be removed from the painful corner. If an infection is present, it will be treated at the same time. If the root is not treated, then the abnormally growing nail plate will grow back in the same place and cause a similar problem again within a few months.
After treatment a small dressing is placed on the toe and a regular shoe can be worn. Some people prefer to wear a wider shoe, tennis shoe, or an open sandal. The foot is soaked in warm water and the dressing is changed at home the following day.
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