An ingrown toenail occurs when your toenail grows in a way that the edge of the nail presses against the adjacent skin causing pain and discomfort. This can occur because of improper nail trimming, wearing tight shoes or because of the shape of the nail root that determines nail growth. It is common for several members of a family to have the same problem suggesting an inherited condition.
Proper medical treatment of an infected ingrown nail usually involves numbing the toe and removing the abnormally curved nail creating the pain and placing the patient on antibiotic with post-operative instructions regarding aftercare.
Permanent correction of the nail is recommended when the toe is not infected to prevent chronic recurrence of ingrown nail and recurrent infection. Correction of the deformed nail can often be done on an outpatient basis in the office under local anesthesia, with application of a special chemical to the root of the nail to prevent chronic recurrence of the curved portion of the nail. This will make the new nail flatter and less likely to re-grow and create chronic nail infections and nail pain. Post-operatively patients should avoid shoe pressure and may have to wear a special surgical shoe and may have special instructions from their physician regarding soaks and wound care.