When an ingrown toenail occurs, pain, redness, and swelling often results. If an infection is present, there will be pus as well. Usually only the big toe is affected, but any toe can have an ingrown nail. Many times, attempting to fix the problem yourself leads to more complications. Professional treatment is important-especially if there is an infection.
Treatment usually involves an in-office surgical procedure that trims the nail back and treats the surrounding skin. Generally, the problem doesn't recur, but if it does, a permanent cure is available. In this procedure, the nail matrix is removed and a chemical is used to prevent it from growing back. Inflammation may occur as a result of the chemical treatment, but this is a mild side effect that lasts only a short time. The nail that grows back in will be more narrow, but the problem will be solved.
Ingrown nails have a number of causes, many of which you can control. Shoes and socks that fit to tightly--especially those that jam the toes--can cause problems. Sudden stops in sports, such as in basketball or tennis, which cause your toes to hit the front of your shoe, can contribute as well. A big factor is how nails are trimmed. Clipping them too short or cutting down into the edges is a recipe for trouble. Cut nails straight across and file the corners, instead. Some people just seem to have wide toenails, so it's especially important that they take the measures to try to prevent this problem.