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Ingrown Nail


Picture of an ingrown nail

Illustration copyright 2000 by Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. http://www.nucleusinc.com

An ingrown nail occurs when a nail grows into the flesh at the side of the nail. This usually affects the toes, particularly the big toe. People with curved or thick nails are most likely to develop a problem with ingrown nails, although ingrown nails can affect anyone.

Ingrown nails are most frequently caused by:

  • Cutting the toenails too short or rounding the nail edges.
  • Wearing shoes that fit poorly or that press the nail into the toe.
  • An injury such as stubbing your toe, which may cause the nail to grow inward.

Most ingrown nail problems can be prevented by properly grooming the toenails and by wearing shoes that fit. Home treatment can often help relieve pain and allow the nail to grow out normally.

Medical treatment of an infected ingrown nail often includes oral antibiotics or topical ointments. A severely ingrown nail may have to be removed.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last RevisedOctober 12, 2010

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