Symptoms and causes

Symptoms

Ingrown toenail symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness in your toe along one or both sides of the nail
  • Redness around your toenail
  • Swelling of your toe around the nail
  • Infection of the tissue around your toenail

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you:

  • Experience severe discomfort in your toe or pus or redness that seems to be spreading
  • Have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow to your feet and you experience any foot sore or infection

Causes

Common ingrown toenail causes include:

  • Wearing shoes that crowd your toenails
  • Cutting your toenails too short or not straight across
  • Injuring your toenail
  • Having unusually curved toenails

Complications

Left untreated or undetected, an ingrown toenail can infect the underlying bone and lead to a serious bone infection.

Complications can be especially severe if you have diabetes, which can cause poor blood flow and damage nerves in your feet. So a minor foot injury — a cut, scrape, corn, callus or ingrown toenail — may not heal properly and become infected. A difficult-to-heal open sore (foot ulcer) may require surgery to prevent the decay and death of tissue (gangrene). Gangrene results from an interruption in blood flow to an area of your body.

Dec. 02, 2016
References
  1. Ingrown toenail. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00154. Accessed Oct. 25, 2016.
  2. Foot care. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/foot-complications/foot-care.html. Accessed Oct. 25, 2016.
  3. Tintinalli JE, et al. Soft tissue problems of the foot. In: Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Companies; 2016. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Oct. 26, 2016.
  4. Eekhof JAH, et al. Interventions for ingrowing toenails. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com/sp-3.22.1b/ovidweb.cgi &S=NHNEFPAFGDDDLOEFNCHKAGOBEOBCAA00&Complete+Reference=S.sh.18%7c1%7c1. Accessed Oct. 29, 2016.
  5. Canale ST, et al. Disorders of nails and skin. In: Campbells Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 29, 2016.
  6. Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Biology of nails and nail disorders. In: Fitzpatricks Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Oct. 29, 2016.
  7. Living with diabetes: Foot complications. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/foot-complications/. Accessed Oct. 29, 2016.
  8. Goldstein BG, et al. Paronychia and ingrown toenails. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 29, 2016.