Ingrown toenail occurs when part of a toenail begins to grow into the skin, causing pain, redness and swelling (inflammation), and sometimes infection in the toe. The condition usually affects the nail of the big toe, but can affect any toenail. Symptoms include pain along one or both sides of the nail, redness around the toenail, swelling of the toe, and infection. An ingrown toenail typically gets better without treatment and does not cause long-term problems. However, an ingrown toenail in someone with diabetes can be dangerous, as poor blood flow to the infected foot can lead to the loss of part or all of the foot.
Ingrown toenails typically occur from cutting the toenail too short or by wearing shoes that do not fit well. Injuring your toenail or having unusually curved toenails can also be a cause. Your doctor will diagnose the condition with an examination of the affected toe. Treatments include lifting the nail (with cotton or dental floss), partially removing the nail, or removing the nail and the skin around the nail. If the toe has become infected, antibiotics may be needed. If you have an ingrown toenail, talk with your doctor to decide the treatment option that is best for you.